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'Separating siblings in out-of-home care is very tough'

Every year in the Netherlands, thousands of children are placed in out-of-home care because their parents are unable to look after them properly or because the children are at risk.

In around half these cases, siblings end up being separated. This is against the law in some countries, but not in the Netherlands.

'The fact that children are placed in care already has an enormous impact’, Professor of Child Law Mariëlle Bruning comments in Dutch news programme Nieuwsuur (item begins at 15.50). 'But if you are also separated from your brothers or sisters, that’s very tough for children. Often, these children have already been caring for their siblings in some way because things were difficult at home.’

There are no provisions in the law in the Netherlands about the importance of family relationships between siblings, though according to international legislation, they are entitled to remain together when placed in care. Defence for Children is now calling for the law in the Netherlands to be amended. 

'Legislation could help to create more awareness, but if you ask me the solution does not lie in legislation’, says Bruning. 'We all agree that brothers and sisters should be kept together. The solution lies in being creative when searching for better places for these children, to keep more siblings together.'

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