We didn’t know she was his sister. It was a late night, approaching midnight, and my wife and I were still up waiting for our newest placement. We were told the need was for a toddler boy, but there was little more information. We heard a car pull up and went out to meet him, hoping to help ease any anxiety in his little heart before he even came through our front door. What we weren’t prepared for was to meet his teenage sister, who was literally handing him to us.
That summer was very different. That was the summer we fostered both a teenage girl and her little brother. We learned much that summer, including the advantages of fostering sibling groups. What we learned in our home matches what the research shows, according to Casey Family Programs in an article called “How are child protection agencies promoting and supporting joint sibling placements and adoptions?” Here are 4 advantages of fostering siblings.
1. There are fewer emotional and behavioral difficulties.
In most cases, there are fewer emotional and behavioral difficulties when siblings stay together. Siblings know each other best and if they are in foster care, they most likely have been through trauma together. Through that trauma, they have learned to help each other cope, and that’s a skill they continue to use in their foster placement.
2. It’s easier to adjust to a new home with siblings.
When siblings are placed together, they are better able to adjust to their new home. With our experience, who knew the little boy’s favorite foods, how best to put him to bed, and what toys he liked most? Of course, it was his sister! He went to bed well that first night because his sister helped us put him to bed.
3. Siblings placed together have increased mental well-being.
There is an increased mental well-being of siblings placed together. Imagine all the worries of kids placed in foster care. When will they see their parents again? Will they have to change schools? Will this foster home be safe? When siblings are placed together, the one question they don’t have to ask themselves is when they’ll see their brother or sister.
4. There is a higher rate of reunification when siblings are placed together.
Casey Family Programs says that when siblings are placed together, there is a higher rate of reunification, which is when a child and his or her biological parent can once again live together in a safe environment. When siblings are together in the same home, bio parents only need to coordinate visits with one family. This allows the bio parents to focus more on other tasks, like seeking employment and stable housing. Not only are there day-to-day benefits of siblings being together, but the increased likelihood that the family will be reunified is a tremendous reason to foster siblings.
There are many advantages of fostering siblings, and the need is also great. Approximately two-thirds of children in foster care have a sibling in care yet research shows that more than 70% of siblings in foster care are separated. Whether you are currently fostering, or considering becoming a foster parent, consider the advantages of fostering siblings.
Sound off: What other advantages are there to fostering sibling groups?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you enjoy most about spending time with family members?”