Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Siblings in care must stay together, but a shortage of foster carers willing to foster siblings means often, this doesn’t happen. The chances of siblings staying together within their community once split up grow remote for them, especially older siblings. Local Authorities need to place siblings in care with foster carers who meet the need of all the children. Their aim is in keeping children local, in the community they know and love.
There is a higher chance that siblings in care who stay together and are not separated; stay together, as a family, forever. However, for siblings who are not as lucky, once separated, the likelihood of them re-uniting back together is slim, and for children who may have already dealt with trauma and loss, this loss hurts the most.
Siblings in care find comfort because they are together.
For many children in care, the care system is traumatic. Thankfully, having your brothers and sisters with you is a comfort; you are never alone; and for vulnerable children, that comfort is essential. However, older siblings suffer the most; they are the children who often blame themselves.
These children are often the unseen carers for siblings; they are the ones who make daily life happen. Older siblings are often seen taking the younger ones to school, feeding them and ironing their clothes for school to keep the appearance of a happy home going.
These children are the ones who often struggle every day, ensuring younger siblings had what they needed to fool social workers and teachers that everything in the home was okay. Only, sometimes it wasn’t. Thankfully, children who have faced neglect and abuse have support from Foster carers, but that doesn’t stop the guilt from older children. They will ask themselves, what did I do wrong? Was it me? I should have done more.
Older siblings are often the silent parents to younger ones…
Sadly, they often find the comfort of their role; parenting siblings are gone. More importantly, the opportunity of childhood themselves, being a child and enjoying life as a child has often passed them by.
These older siblings care for younger brothers and sisters in the only role they know; it was their purpose, and once gone, they become lost in a system they don’t know and which they have no control over. They were the decision-makers at one point, albeit a role they shouldn’t have had, but it was their role. Now gone, they are lost, and, ultimately, they silently shoulder the blame.
Sibling foster carers keep siblings together, including older children.
Furthermore, the saddest part is many foster carers will often take younger siblings, but not the older children. Many will say they know the hype about older children in care; they have complex needs and behavioural problems. Suffice to say, given what they have been through, separation anxiety, guilt and too much too soon in their young lives will manifest in behavioural problems. And for many foster carers, that’s not what they want.
Therefore, older siblings often go into residential care; they are often away from their local community and feel abandoned. Also, the chance of finding a foster home for them is remote, and sadly, they can become institutionalised. I apologise if this sounds grim.
Seperating older siblings often ends with them becoming another statistic of a system that failed them…
The reality is harsh; we need to keep all siblings in care together. The truth is many older children start to forget the comfort of being a part of a sibling group; they lose their identity and become another shocking statistic of a system that failed them.
Most of us who care for children and are part of sibling groups know the sibling bond is unique for most families. Sometimes, I often wish I wasn’t related to mine, and I’ve often muttered the old line, ‘you can pick your friends but not your family.’
But the reality is we share a family, a past, a sense of identity, and this bond unites us. It is our strength, and when things go wrong, this strength helps us cope together as a family. However, once lost, we either grow stronger alone or lose ourselves; the deciding factor is the support we have…
Fostering siblings is a commitment to every child, and yourself.
Sibling foster care is not about having one or more spare bedrooms; it is about having space in your heart and home for every child. Your commitment is the key to each child achieving the best in life. One foster carer I know told me that she committed herself and the boys when she chose to foster two long-term boys; and said, ‘Right then, I have decided you will have at least 15 Christmas with me!’
She gave them and herself a sense of belonging as a family, within a safe and loving home together. Ultimately, she knew the path to the future might be challenging, but she didn’t worry. She had committed herself and would not let the boys down, especially the older child, because she knows what his future may be without her. Her awareness is her strength.
Sibling foster carers make a committment to each child.
More importantly, she decided because she knew how important it was for both boys to stay together. They are brothers; she knew they had a past if they had each other. They have a unique bond and a self-identity, as a family, together.
Also, both boys have different needs. They love and hate each other in equal ways, as siblings do; however, her love for them is the glue that binds them together. And this is what makes a foster carer an excellent foster carer. She knows the best path for the boys; instinctively, it is the path they walk down together; regardless of whether it wasn’t the best path for her. She knows that life isn’t about her; it’s about doing right by children who need her, and that’s why she chose to become a foster carer.
Also, she knows that fostering siblings is a challenge. And, with support from her agency, family and friends, it is the right one for her. More importantly, she made her commitment to foster both boys, and it’s one she fully intends to keep.
Siblings in care need to stay together; can you help?
Many Local Authorities have to make tough decisions; there are not enough sibling foster carers to meet the needs of sibling groups. Sibling Foster carers need support; 24/7 when needed most, so Verve Recruitment CIC only recruit foster carers for the Not for Profit sector; because supporting foster carers is where they excel.
Every penny profit they make is re-invested back into supporting you. They don’t re-invest a part of the Profit; they invest it all. Not for Profit’s know that help siblings heal from trauma; they need foster carers with access to support networks, available 24/7 from a Charity that cares, and that’s the difference they need.
Sibling foster carers have the hearts of a lion, and the patience of Job!
Sibling foster care is challenging, but the rewards are immense. However, it takes commitment and love in your heart and home for vulnerable children; and for siblings in care, you are the difference they need.
Fostering siblings requires the heart of a lion and the patience of Job. Still, the rewards outweigh the challenges as siblings flourish together, retaining their self-identity, and staying together in successful lives, together. Just how many opportunities in our lives do we have to make that happen?
If you want to learn more about sibling foster care with a Not for Profit Charity, please get in touch on the form below. It’s free; it’s confidential; it takes half an hour of your time to make the first step to making a difference in siblings’ lives…Together, we can all make a difference in siblings’ lives in care.