Building Connections With Siblings
Sibling relationships can provide a significant source of continuity throughout a child's life and are likely to be one of the longest relationships that most people experience. One of the most important contributions that child welfare professionals can provide for children who enter foster care is to preserve their connections with their brothers and sisters. This section provides resources for child welfare professionals seeking to support enduring relationships with siblings for children who experience foster care, including State and local examples.
Recounts the story of three siblings who were separated in foster care and subsequently lost contact when two of the children were adopted. The piece concludes with tips for children and youth in out of home care who are trying to stay connected with their siblings. Also available: Sibling Separation
Fostering Sibling Connections for Brothers and Sisters Who Live Apart
Fostering FamiliesToday,10(2), (2010)
Explains the importance of fostering sibling connections among children in foster care and presents strategies and key considerations when arranging sibling visits.
Information Packet: Sibling Placement: The Importance of the Sibling Relationship for Children in Foster Care
National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning (2008)
Includes facts and statistics, best practice tips and model programs, policies and legislation, websites and resources, and a bibliography about the topic of sibling placement for children in foster care.
Sibling Connections and Reasonable Efforts in Public Child Welfare
Gustavsson & MacEachron
Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 91(1), 2010
Reviews research on the role of siblings, sibling placements in out-of-home care in relation to placement disruption and permanency outcomes, and suggests policies and practices to support the sibling bond over time.
Siblings in Adoption and Foster Care: Traumatic Separations and Honored Connections
Silverstein & Smith (2008)
Explores the importance of sibling relationships throughout a lifetime and the trauma of foster and adopted children who are separated from their siblings.
Siblings in Foster Care: An Overview of Research, Policy, and Practice
Journal of Public Child Welfare, 4(2), 2010
Reviews the limited empirical data on siblings in foster care and provides an overview of influential policies and practices for siblings served by the child welfare system.
State and local examples
Child Welfare League of America
Children's Voice, March/April (2008)
Provides detailed information about a Baltimore County, MD, Department of Social Services summer camp that reunites siblings in foster care for other agencies considering developing a similar sibling camp model.
Offers siblings placed in separate foster, adoptive, and kinship homes opportunities to create lifetime memories while reunited at a camp.
North Carolina Division of Social Services & The Family and Children's Resource Program
Fostering Connections, 14(1), 2009
Discusses strategies agencies and foster parents can use to strengthen sibling connections and keep siblings together, and offers ideas for reducing sibling rivalry, myths about sibling placement, and tips for families considering adopting an older sibling group.
(PDF – 206 KB)
New York Office of Children and Family Services (2008)
Reviews New York State's requirements on placing siblings together in foster care, reasons to place siblings together, what prevents siblings from being placed together, and sibling visitation when placed in foster care.