Yesterday was National Sibling Day. Anyone with siblings can tell you there can be highs and lows growing up with brothers or sisters. Despite this, most people can reflect on these years and appreciate that their childhood was enriched by the shared sibling experiences.

Not all siblings have the opportunity for this experience. Children in Out of Home Care are often separated from their siblings when they are removed from their parents’ care.

Why is keeping siblings together difficult?

For the children and young people in Out of Home Care, it is important we work with agencies to place families together. This means finding Carers who have the capacity to care for a sibling group. Unfortunately, most sibling groups end up separated as many households do not have the capacity to care for more than one child/young person.

What can we do about it?

In the assessments we undertake, we always look at a Carers’ capacity to look after siblings.

  • This includes determining:
  • Is enough physical space in the home to accommodate the children?
  • Has the carer had experience caring for more than one child or young person?
  • Does the carer have a strong enough support network to assist in managing:
    • multiple sets of extra-curricular activities,
    • schools in different locations,
    • and medical appointments?
  • If the carer has the skills to manage and support the needs of more than one child or young person?

Benefits of keeping siblings together

Whilst it is not always possible, the benefits of keeping siblings together are significant. Some of the well-established positives are:

  • Settling into a new foster placement is less traumatic with someone familiar. (These children have already been separated from their parents.)
  • Healthier emotional well-being.
  • Better development of a child’s identity and self-esteem.
  • Greater stability and less chance of placement breakdown.

If you or anyone you know of can take two or more children or young people into their home, please contact us via email ([email protected]), through our website contact form or connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Ref: National Center for Youth Law, Keeping Siblings Together: Past, Present, and Future.