The Importance of Keeping Foster Siblings Together in VA

The Importance of Keeping Foster Siblings Together in VA

The importance of keeping siblings together in VA

Today's focus is on sibling groups and keeping them together in foster care. When we receive referrals for sibling groups, we stress the importance of keeping them together not to cause any additional trauma to the child. 

There are plenty of key benefits of maintaining sibling bonds in foster care which we support. For one, these youth have gone through the traumatic experience of coming into care. That in and of itself is traumatic. These siblings will often want and need to lean on each other for support during this difficult time. When they go to a strange new place their new home, it will most certainly lower anxiety levels to know that they have each other the person they feel comfortable with. At this point in their journey, that's their only given. As siblings, staying together is essential for their growth and development as this is their longest-lasting relationship. Also, "​Sibling relationships help children achieve developmental milestones as well as provide emotional support, companionship, and comfort in times of change. When children are separated from their siblings, the research indicates that many children feel "they have lost a part of themselves," which compounds the anxiety and pain they feel over separating from their parents and transitioning to a new home.​ Siblings placed together ​to use their relationships to understand who they are.​ Not only do siblings help children to  adapt to such new and frightening situations, but also they remain important figures throughout their lives." 

In thinking about the importance of keeping siblings together, I'd like you to keep these things in mind. It's not enough that these children get ​uprooted from their families; they're also becoming detached from their community, culture, and identity when entering the child welfare system. Being separated from their siblings in addition to that could be catastrophic; therefore, we try our best to keep them together. When siblings are separated, it heavily impacts them. It's unfortunate, but the reality is that it happens often. Many sibling groups get separated upon entry into the foster care system for different reasons. Some siblings are adopted by other families, which causes many of these separated brothers and sisters to lose contact with one another. "​When they're not together, they tend to act out more because they are not only scared,  but they are confused, and they may be angry. They feel they have had their voice taken away. They feel like their world has been turned upside down, and they have no voice. 

But when you allow them the opportunity, and it's should be a right if safe to do so, getting to see their siblings lowers the anger and anxiety. They even do better in school..." 

As foster parents, you can help nurture sibling bonds by asking and talking about​ their siblings. Ask them about things they would do together, their favorite traits about them, if possible, involve their siblings in special occasions like birthdays or graduations, etc. Allow them to see their siblings if at all possible. Work with your case management team and other stakeholders, and make efforts to set up sibling visits they can be supervised if needed. Do what you can to keep that sibling bond- it will not only help them, but it will also help you and your whole family. It also lets them know that you care about how they feel. 

As foster parents, you have such a massive impact on these kids, so allowing them to see and have that sibling bond, it's going to impact the rest of their lives. If you are a true believer in keeping them together, when the time comes and you receive the call for a sibling group, don't shy away from taking them on. Embrace them together as a  package deal, and watch the fruits of your labor and kindness manifest in ways never imagined. 

My name is Vincent Ellis White, and I am a Family Services Specialist at Extra Special Parents (ESP), a licensed foster Child Placing Agency (CPA) in Virginia. In my ESP role, I train potential foster parents and guide them as they navigate the road to certification to become licensed foster parents. Another integral part of my responsibility to assist the placement of foster children into our certified families' homes. 

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