Sibling groups who enter the care system need to stay together for many reasons; however, there is a shortage of foster carers. According to a recent BBC article, Sadly, ‘Thousands of children are split up in the care system.’
Not only that, there are more than 12000 children currently in care that don’t live with at least one of their siblings.
Sadly, contact can become complicated once children are separated, especially if children move around or move further away from home. Subsequently, the devastating effects of separating sibling children will often last a lifetime.
The motivation for fostering siblings is to keep children together, and it is a motivation driven by genuine kindness. Children should stay together, and fostering siblings is a challenge.
Sadly, some foster carers find they can’t cope with this challenge, so, once again, children become separated. It is devastating for separated children, and their joy at being together is now gone.
Every sibling has a different dynamic within the family unit…
Foster carers with siblings know that every child is different; this difference is due to their role in the dynamics of their previous family. It is especially true for older siblings who may have been a parental role; they protect younger ones.
These children don’t know of any other role, and consequently, they will often resent change; thus, these children don’t trust easily and often, wrongly perceived as the ‘challenging ones’.
Sadly, ‘challenging behaviour’ is because they have always nurtured and cared for others; However, who is nurturing and caring for them?
These ‘challenging’ children, whose role was to protect others, have often missed their childhood; so sibling foster carers help these children be what they should have always been. Ultimately, they need to be children themselves.
According to a recent BBC article, more than 1200 children in care are not living with at least one of their siblings. Many of them will have brothers and sisters; sadly, there is little data about the extent to which sibling groups are separated. They added that freedom of information requests sent to more than 200 local authorities revealed that Social Services split more than half of the sibling groups in care.
Separating sibling groups means children may permanently lose contact.
Separation for any child is hard, but it is harder for older siblings who once were the protector. They know the bond between each other was the glue that kept them together; sadly, many of these children have suffered significant trauma, and thus, have lived by their own rules to survive.
It is imperative that as long as siblings stay together, they know they will be okay, but to separate them will be devastating. More importantly, when children become separated, it is vital that regular contact is made and children can regularly visit siblings.
‘There is a legal duty for children in care to have reasonable contact with their parents, but siblings are not specified by statute.’
Over 38% of children in care are over ten years old.
Over 38% of children in care are over ten years old. There is little data to see if these children have been a part of sibling groups; my guess is they have. There is also little evidence of whether these children were parent figures or a carer.
However, many young people have nurtured strong feelings by protecting others; these feelings remain for these children. Sadly, children who cared for siblings often feel rejected and think they are at fault or blame themselves and feel rejected.
Consequently, when children feel rejected, they feel confused and hurt, and their self-esteem and confidence will hit an all-time low.
We know that adolescence is challenging enough for older children. However, the saddest thing, for me, is that many older children didn’t have a chance to be children themselves. These children are vulnerable, and consequently, they don’t expect much; they are the uncommunicative ones and are perceived as challenging.
And, even worse, I know of foster carers who will only take younger siblings and not older children; because the older ones are ‘hard work’.
‘If siblings stayed together, would there be fewer older children in care?‘
So, for me, the question remains; if siblings were to stay together, would there be fewer older children in care? It’s an important question because older children are the hardest to find foster homes.
These children need foster carers to understand them and know to look ‘beyond the label;.’ because the alternative is that children go into residential care homes.
Sadly, many children will remain there for long periods; thus, finding a foster carer to take a chance on them is slim. Subsequently, the risk of children and young people becoming ‘institutionalised’ grows stronger, and ultimately, problems arise as they reach adulthood.
Identifying challenging behaviour in a child or young person is difficult as every child has layers. One analogy is that children who have suffered trauma develop layers to protect themselves.
Therefore, each layer is akin to peeling an onion, and consequently, every layer will have a unique trigger point. Children must have access to specialised support to heal from trauma, especially children in sibling groups, as each child’s layers are individual.
Fostering siblings is not for the faint-hearted; it’s for the determined.
Fostering siblings is not an easy role. Many people who offer to foster siblings do it with the kindest intentions; however, it’s not for the faint-hearted but the determined. It would help if you had selfless determination to ensure that every child had access to the best individual support unique to their needs.
Also, you have to have a great sense of humour, as siblings may often push you to your limits, and thus, a supportive network of friends and family is essential.
Never forget, siblings are a team, and as such, they are used to looking out for each other. Therefore, if one child hurts or feels mistreated, it is likely that out of solidarity, others will follow. Because, after all, that’s what families do!
You will have Outstanding support, 24/7, from the Not for Profit Charities you represent.
Foster carers with siblings need a lot of support, and this is where not-for-profit charities and agencies excel, as their support networks are outstanding.
It is also important to remember that many Not for Profit charities and agencies are smaller organisations. Subsequently, they create a sense of belonging and foster carers and all children, including your children and family.
Many children’s activities with Charities are often a combination of teams or 1:1, and this specialised 1:1 care is vital for children who might not realise the importance of play and fun.
Sadly, some children may have never experienced play before, so play will become a new positive experience creating feelings of joy that children deserve.
Therapeutic support for children includes the importance of play.
Therapeutic support for children helps children to understand the importance of play. Play allows children and young people a chance to be themselves; thus, over time, children understand that having fun through play is good and, eventually, play can remove the layers of hurt that shared trauma brings.
The rewards of fostering siblings are immense, and sibling foster carers describe it as no other feeling in the world. The difference you make in children’s lives is immense because staying together is all children want.
No matter what life threw at siblings before, they had each other; thus, to these children, their family is all they have; therefore, family is precious.
Could you foster siblings in care with a Not for Profit?
If you are thinking about fostering siblings, you will need a large spare bedroom and, more importantly, the time to dedicate to each child individually.
However, you are never alone, as every member of the Not for Profit charities is dedicated to helping you to meet every child’s needs.
Charities work together with their foster carers and sibling groups to ensure they stay together, play together, heal together, and eventually have a long life together as a family.
Verve work with Not for Profit Charities, and we aim to find the right Charity for you; therefore, we will work with you and match you to a Not for Profit that needs your experience caring for children.
Most importantly, we aim to find a Charity that understands you and your passion for helping children have the chance to be together as children in their family unit.
If you want to chat about sibling foster care, please fill in your details below, and we will contact you back. There’s no cost and no obligation—just honest and straightforward advice to give you clarity about fostering siblings and the fantastic support you will receive from Not for Profit charities.
Ultimately, we want to ensure that siblings stay together; forever.
Read the full article here Thousands of siblings split up in care system https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51095939.