BRADFORD Council is drawing up a new policy in an effort to ensure that fewer children in care in the district are separated from their brothers or sisters when adopted or fostered.

It follows national guidance on improving the placement of siblings for adoption, which is relevant to both adoption and fostering.

A checklist has allowed the Council to assess what it is doing well, and to focus on areas for development, such as developing a specific policy on placing siblings.

The latest statistics show that as of June last year there were 196 sibling groups in care in the district. Of those 89 were placed together, 36 had some of the siblings placed together, and 71 groups were not placed together.

The vast majority of these groups contain two or three siblings, but there were also 18 groups with four siblings, seven groups with five siblings, two groups with six siblings, and one group with seven siblings.

Work is now taking place to develop a clear policy about placing sibling groups based on the British Agency for Adoption and Fostering guidance, which is expected to have an impact throughout the whole service.

Structures, practice tools and training are expected to be developed, to help improve the number of siblings in care that are able to stay together.

From April to the beginning of December there were ten groups of siblings matched to adopters, which involved 20 children in total. In the same period of time, five children across two groups were placed separately.

In addition there were 35 foster placements for siblings groups between April 2013 to March 2014. Of these 61 children across 27 sibling groups were placed together, 12 children across six sibling groups were assessed to be placed together but were placed separately, and five children across two groups were assessed to be placed separately and were placed separately.

In a report to Bradford Council's corporate parenting panel, Julie Jenkins, the authority's assistant director for children's specialist services, states: "As a general principle the local authority would want to place children in a sibling group together in recognition of the fact that sibling relationships are likely to be the most enduring of family relationships.

"However we are currently seeing more very large sibling groups, also children with highly complex needs.

"Work is under way to understand in more depth the population of children in order to build in appropriate planning and decision making to achieve the best possible outcome for them."

She goes on to state: "There are many factors which can effect the final decision to place sibling groups together or not including the individual pathway into care, their ages, and individual additional needs, the attitude of social workers, fosters carers, magistrates, judges and guardians."

In September, the Telegraph & Argus reported how research by Action for Children showed that one in five children in foster care were split from their siblings across the county.

The corporate parenting panel will discuss the report when it meets at Bradford City Hall on Wednesday, January 14.