COULD you foster a siblings group?

To mark National Siblings Day, an Isle of Wight couple have asked people to consider becoming foster carers — particularly for sibling groups.

It is thought almost 2,000 children in care across England have been split up from their brothers and sisters, and currently there is a nationwide shortage of foster carers.

Emma Barnicoat and Kevin Ford, of Ryde, shared their experience as third generation foster carers after being motivated by Emma’s mother, Jane Rouse, who is also a foster carer, to provide care for a pair of siblings.

For Emma, fostering has been a family affair. Both Emma’s grandfather and mother fostered children and young people and now, 20 years later, Emma, a mum-of-three and a former primary school teacher, is a full-time foster carer.

She said: “For more than a decade, I provided educational and emotional support to young children in my classroom and for students with special needs.

"When I was pregnant with our youngest son Sebastian, I was undecided on whether or not I wanted to go back to teaching or move into a different career.

"It was my mother who motivated us to pursue fostering as I would still get to be at home with my children and provide love and care for other young people in need."

Emma and Kevin foster with Five Rivers Child Care, an independent fostering agency and social enterprise.

The couple are currently foster parents to brothers age 12 and 14. The boys joined the family two years ago alongside biological children, Sebastian, three, Chloe, eight, Katie, 12.

She said: "A career in foster care has always been inevitable considering my family’s history. I have seen many children and young people positively influenced by my mum and granddad from decades-worth of care and support.

"The boys are part of our family and are brothers to our other children. Our extended family view them as nephews and grandsons.

"Initially, we had no preference on whether we fostered siblings or children on their own. However, when the opportunity came up to provide long-term care for the brothers, it was a no-brainer for us to keep the two boys together and to bring them into our home with open arms.

"Our family wouldn’t have wanted it any other way and now, as far as they are concerned, they simply have another two brothers."

With Emma’s mother also a foster carer, the five siblings have been surrounded by other foster or adopted children close in age.

Martin Leitch, head of fostering services at Five Rivers Child Care, said: "Emma and Kevin have been wonderful examples of carers going above and beyond for a pair of siblings.

"Fostering a child is not just a career path, it’s a life choice, it’s choosing to provide a safe and loving home to someone vulnerable that otherwise might not have a family or home.

"We only hope more loving families on the Isle of Wight will be inspired to foster."

People can become foster carers if they are over 21, including single people, co-habiting couples, same sex couples and people living in rented accommodation.

The only requirement is a spare room for each foster child. Siblings of the same sex may be able to share rooms depending on their individual requirements.

For more information contact Five Rivers Child Care on 0345 266 0272 or visit

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