Placing siblings in foster care is not a straightforward exercise:
there are a good many factors that need to be taken into account. It is desirable in most instances to keep siblings together: for many different reasons this is not always possible despite the best efforts of social workers. For children and young people, it can be very important to maintain contact with their siblings. Such contact can provide security as well as represent the familiar and what they most value in family life. There is not a great deal of evidence to indicate that placing siblings together guarantees better outcomes for the children concerned. It should always be remembered that the issues surrounding the placement of siblings can be complex – especially when having to place them apart.
Being separated from their sibling can be utterly devastating for a child going into foster care. This can come at a time when a child’s greatest need is for stability and security. To then find that they are torn from their brother or sister can cause deep distress. This can lead on to mental health issues.
Placing siblings in the same foster family may give rise to certain considerations. Brothers and sisters may have a whole series of relationships in place: some may get on together and wish to remain together. There may, on the other hand, be a reluctance to be in the same family and there may be jealous tendencies to contend with. Children coming from sibling groups can often present a broad range of needs which can be challenging for some foster carers to meet. Additionally, there is a general shortage of foster carers that are in a position to accept sibling groups. This means, sadly, that over a third of youngsters are currently forced to live apart.
Past research has revealed certain facts that have an important bearing:
When children can be kept together there are tangible benefits: it can be imagined that it is a great deal easier for children to readjust to a new home environment if they do not feel completely alone. The support they can get from their own family member can enable them to rebuild their lives and settle at school. Things can be easier for foster carers too. With children who feel reassured by being together, they are less likely to feel so insecure. This can limit difficult and challenging behaviour and ultimately improve the chances of making the placement more stable.
The first consideration needs to be the practical one of space. Sibling groups can number more than two children, for example. The financial implications need to be thought through and then managed.
The sleeping arrangements will be a consideration: again this will be dependent upon the size of the particular sibling group concerned. The next question to be addressed will be food and the cooking arrangements that will need to be in place. It may seem paradoxical, but keeping a larger group of children occupied can pose unique challenges. And be a strain on a foster carers own energy levels! The reverse can also apply: children, if they have their own siblings, might find it easier to be occupied. It all depends on the individuals concerned. No two sets of circumstances are the same. One aspect of looking after sibling groups that can present organisational challenges is managing school runs and other activities. This is made easier if the children are all at the same school. This will depend on the ages of the foster children that make up the particular sibling group.
Generally, sibling groups normally range from two to five children. Sometimes where more children are concerned, the sibling group might have to be split. This may be along gender lines or closeness in age.
Foster carers who open their homes to sibling groups are bestowing a considerable gift: keeping brothers and/or sisters together can keep family relationships intact so they can last a lifetime. The history that siblings share whilst in placement together can build a sense of continuity and identity.
Providing foster care is one of the most rewarding things that you can do. In the UK today, there is a real shortage of new applicants coming forward to be foster carers. The shortage is even more acute when it comes to finding carers to look after sibling groups in foster care. If you are interested in fostering children or fostering babies, with additional training and support, you could be fostering a sibling group. This would mean increased financial reward, as well as the satisfaction of knowing you are keeping family ties intact. And this might mean helping a child to preserve their family connections over an entire lifetime.
Rainbow rewards and advice corner:
We are here to answer any questions you might have relating to any aspect of foster care. Your questions are valuable to us: often they help us to understand what are the most important issues concerning foster carers at the current time. We can advise on a foster carers tax return, a foster carers allowance or a foster carers salary. We also cover information relating to foster carers rights as well as; through our marketing activities, become involved with foster carer topic reviews.
Don’t forget our ‘Rainbow Rewards’
We currently pay a bonus of £500 if you refer someone to be a foster carer with Rainbow fostering: do this and you’ll receive this bonus from Rainbow once your referral has been approved and the first placement made. Existing foster carers who may be thinking about the benefits of a transfer to Rainbow, could also qualify for a bonus: do please note that this payment will be made for foster carers already caring for youngsters on a long-term basis.
And the good news at the end of this particular rainbow…we have had great feedback from all those carers and foster children who enjoyed taking part in our summer activities programme.
Rainbow news! Keeping you up to date if you are a foster carer…
‘Staying Put’ Guidance launched for foster care.
September 14th, 2017
The leading charity for foster care in the UK, The Fostering Network has just launched its Staying Put Guidance. This has been based upon the legislation, standards and statutory guidance that oversees services for ‘looked after children’, care leavers and fostering services in England (more) http://bit.ly/2e8PrIK