There are over 78,150 children in care in England in 2020; this is a rise of 28% over the last decade. This rise has led to increasing demand for foster carers to offer safe and loving homes to sibling groups who want to stay together.
‘Siblings foster care is in high demand as siblings must stay together. However, to achieve this, they must find foster carers willing to take them, as a family. More importantly, we need foster carers who are local to keep siblings within their local community. Sadly, there are not enough foster carers to meet siblings’ needs, they become separated it is hard to reunite.
Fostering siblings is demanding and ideally, you need to have more than one spare bedroom. You will also need patience, time, and love to give to every child as they have their own individual needs and challenges. More importantly, each child has a role within the family dynamics; these roles need to be recognised, especially for older children. Sadly, many older children have played the parental role to younger siblings. For these children, their childhood has been the carer, the protector, and the nurturer; it is not a role they asked for, and sadly, they have often missed a childhood themselves. These young people need to be children and have the same opportunities as every child to flourish.
‘According to a recent BBC article, more than 1200 children in care are not living with at least one of their siblings. They added that freedom of information requests sent to more than two hundred local authorities revealed that Social Services separated more than half of the sibling groups in care. Many of them will have siblings; sadly, there is little data about the extent to which sibling groups are separated.’
Older children are often ‘silent parents’ to younger children.
Many sibling groups in care may have often suffered trauma, abuse, or grief, and as a result, they are vulnerable. Older siblings often are the silent parent to many children, playing an essential role in family dynamics by sharing experiences and having an inherent understanding of each other.
Therefore, the grief a child can feel at the loss of this sibling, who is often the only one to show them, love is now gone; now they have no one, and they are vulnerable. Foster carers who care for siblings often comment that it is easier for children to settle together. Usually, children have designated roles in their families, bringing comfort to the carer and each other.
Foster carers who offer support to children as a family ensure that all children have the chance to be children. They take over the parent’s role that many children must adopt, out of necessity, and allow them to have a happy childhood.
Siblings who stay together have a sense of ‘identity and belonging.’
Children need a sense of identity and belonging, and they feel this simply because they belong to each other. Many siblings feel the sense of loss of siblings more acutely than the loss of a parent; these children are their safe place, their comfort blanket; and the loss of each child as a family is the hardest one to bear.
Fostering siblings is challenging. It would help if you had a reliable and supportive network of family and friends to support you, therefore Verve recruits for Not-for-Profit fostering charities. They give you and the children you care for 24/7 support; they are always there when you need it most!
What do I need to have to foster siblings?
You will need at least one spare bedroom and time to devote to every child individually. A pre-requisite need is a sense of humour and patience by the bucketful. For all the challenges you will face, you will know that you are doing something utterly unique. Your care will affect sibling children throughout their lives; you kept them together. You have given them a sense of identity and belonging to each other; as a family. This is the most valuable gift we will provide to children.
Happy New Year from Verve and thank you for your support. 2020 hasn’t defined us; it merely made us realise what was necessary. It took a pandemic to understand the real values of family and our children in our lives.
This reality is especially true for sibling children and young people in care; they need to stay together in the communities to which they belong.
Contact Verve today, and we will call you back. There’s no obligation and no cost; just honest advice and clarity on the fostering process and advice on not-for-profit charities in your community.
Together, we can make a difference in the lives of children in care.