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September 2018   |   Archive   |   National Adoption Month   

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Maintaining Sibling Connections

Recognizing that sibling relationships play a relevant role in a child's social, emotional, and behavioral well-being, Federal law requires child welfare agencies to make a "reasonable effort" to place siblings together in foster care, kinship care, or adoption. Indeed, research has consistently highlighted the benefits of sibling placement, which is generally associated with more positive outcomes. Children who share a foster home with a brother\sister tend to experience more stability and a have a greater chance for adoption, guardianship, or reunification.    

However, even when this guiding principle for placement is not in a child's best interests, protecting these ties and safeguarding family relationships remains a priority. Similar studies have also documented the positive effect of regular ongoing contact between siblings that are separated. If connecting is safe and appropriate, caseworkers and foster parents can help build, support, and preserve these bonds by arranging for regular visits, fun activities, or other types of contact (emailing, messaging, video chatting, etc.). Encouraging children to identify, express, and address feelings of grief or other emotions that may arise from these interactions may also help overcome challenges and improve the quality of the sibling relationship. 

A number of products in the published literature have focused on practice guidelines and strategies to assist professionals in meeting the needs of siblings in foster care. The following resources provide an overview of these issues from various perspectives:


3 Resources About Maintaining Sibling Connections

Sibling Issues in Foster Care and Adoption

By Child Welfare
Information Gateway

Brothers and Sisters: Keeping Siblings in
Foster Care

By Epic Ohana, Inc.


Child Welfare Enacted Legislation Database


By National Conference of State Legislatures 


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