There are over 78,150 children in care in England alone, a rise of 28% in the last decade. This increase has led to considerable demand for foster carers who can offer safe and loving homes to the many sibling groups that are desperate to be together.
‘Sibling foster care is one of the highest types of foster care needed. It is vital for children that are desperate to be together; to stay together. Foster carers need to have at least one spare bedroom and time, patience and love to devote to the children, together as a family and individually. We know that every child has their own individual needs, and now more than ever, these need to be recognised and supported.
Foster carers with Not for Profit Charities play an essential role by working with children and young people, ensuring they get the care and support they need individually. This support ranges from attending school and health appointments to extracurricular activities; all of this is challenging with just one child; it’s even more challenging with sibling groups; however, the rewards are immense.
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 200 local authorities revealed that Social Services separated more than half of the sibling groups in care. Many of them will have brothers and sisters; sadly, there is little data about the extent to which sibling groups are separated.
Older children are often ‘silent parent’ 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 have to adopt, out of necessity, and allow them to have a happy childhood.
Siblings who stay together has 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 ultimately, 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; this is why 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 truly 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. Ultimately, 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 and retain their own identity.
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 huge difference in the lives of children in care.