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Fostering siblings means safeguarding their emotional wellbeing

Fostering carers needed for sibling groups

Fostering parents needed for sibling groups

Fostering has many different faces. There are foster carers looking after asylum seekers, teenagers, supporting Parent and Child placements, caring for disabled children, or facilitating therapeutic fostering settings. Another form of foster care that is vitally important involves the care of sibling groups. This year, sadly, has seen the numbers of children coming into care continue to rise. This situation has undoubtedly been worsened by the pressures of the coronavirus pandemic. It means that there are likely to be more siblings needing foster homes than ever before. in 2020 it was found that more than 12,000 children in care are not living with at least one of their siblings. It has also emerged that over 200 local UK authorities have admitted more than half of sibling groups are split up. This does not only relate to fostering provision, figures from 2020 indicated that at least 1,375 children who were placed for adoption between April 2018 and November 2019 had been separated from birth siblings. The real figures could well be higher as around a third of local authorities did not supply information. Daniel Monk a professor of law at, University of London, thinks it’s important to look at each case individually, but the importance of sibling relationships should not be underestimated. In relation to siblings coming into care, he stated: 

“The evidence from some young people is they found this hugely traumatic, wherever possible they should be kept together and I think people will say that is what the current law states at the moment. The problem is that is easily outweighed by other considerations.”

Fostering siblings together really does matter.

Any child being taken into foster care will find the experience stressful. It’s impossible for adults to comprehend how traumatic this is. But for siblings, this can be compounded when separated and placed into different foster homes. Not only have they lost their home, but also those; after their parents, they were closest to. Fostering service providers are aware ideally siblings should always be kept together, the problem is a shortage of carers and homes for fostering.

Sibling relationships under normal circumstances are strong. When children have come from dysfunctional and chaotic homes, the bond between them can be even stronger. This is easy to understand when children have been living with a heightened sense of insecurity and threat. Being separated after such shared experiences can be highly traumatic. There are three risk factors that can lead to siblings being separated: there is a national shortage of foster carers; a lack of space in foster homes to accommodate large sibling groups; the lack of clarity concerning the definition of a sibling – are half brothers/sisters included. It’s also not widely known that adoption can threaten the maintenance of relationships between siblings. As professor Monk says: “When a child is adopted they are no longer considered the blood relative of their birth relatives – so the effect of adoption is that the relationship with siblings ends in law.” 

Setting a priority for keeping siblings together at the national level.

Foster care service providers will be aware of the considerable benefits there are if siblings can be kept together. The single most concerning issue – as it impacts across many fronts – is placement stability. The evidence is overwhelming that when foster children experience multiple placement breakdowns the effects can be pernicious and long-lasting. Their education suffers which can severely limit their future prospects. Children who feel secure are less likely to exhibit challenging behaviour which can undermine a fostering placement. If siblings are able to stay together settling into a new fostering placement is likely to be much less stressful.

Why do people foster?

Deciding to help a child grow up in a safe, nurturing, and loving foster home is one of the most personally enriching and rewarding decisions you can make. The kind of upbringing you can give a child will literally shape their lives. Providing opportunities, as well as taking an active interest in the things that matter to them, are things they will never forget. And neither will you!

Professionalism, skill, and compassion are the qualities need to be a foster carer. And you need to add personal warmth and a sense of fun! People come into fostering from all walks of life. And we welcome people of all ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. Our main priority is to check an applicant’s suitability to care for a vulnerable child or young person and provide them with a secure, stable foster home. We assess suitability to foster by considering:

  • Personal references;
  • an applicants general background, health, and lifestyle;
  • an applicant has the spare room needed for a foster child;
  • an applicant’s attitude, personality, and life skills;
  • whether an applicant has experience of parenting or caring for children;
  • an applicant’s willingness and commitment to regular training;
  • an applicant is a UK resident or has leave to remain;
  • availability to foster: single carers need to be at home full-time or have a flexible part-time job – couples need to ensure one of them will be available at all times;
  • an applicant’s willingness to work as part of a team.

The children we are supporting in London, Birmingham, Manchester, and parts of Hampshire are diverse and of all ages. We need foster homes for teenagers, sibling groups, and children with complex needs. We are also getting asked to provide homes for young mothers and their babies – known as parent and child fostering.

Foster carers can earn between £1,500 and £3,000 per month depending on the type of fostering they undertake. Trained therapeutic foster carers are paid at a higher rate as they are caring for children with complex needs. We encourage all our foster carers to receive therapeutic training. 

Another of our blogs covering an important fostering topic:

As children and young people have returned to nurseries, schools and universities, it’s advisable to check the latest advice and guidance to stay safe and well. For the latest information 

visit –  https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus Contact details and for Rainbow Fostering Services can be found at http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/contact/

And in the words of one of our carers – now with us for over ten years:

“We never looked back after approaching Rainbow who gave us all the help and guidance in making such a life-changing decision.” 

Rainbow putting the focus on fostering.

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