Data collected as of 31 March 2022 indicates that 57,540 young people in England are living in foster care. While this number may appear insignificant, considering that the population of people under 18 years is estimated to be 14,075,345.5 in the UK, it is not a small statistic by any means. Foster care accounts for 70% of all young people who are being taken care of away from home. Many foster families end up fostering siblings since it is seen as the right course of action.
Considering that most young people who end up in foster care have encountered trauma, around 90%, it can be seen how difficult it can be for them to adjust to a new environment. Over half of the young people in foster care experience at least four traumatic events early in their lives. Fostering siblings can provide some semblance of normalcy and familiarity that is seriously lacking otherwise.
Why Are Siblings Separated In Foster Care?
It seems only logical to foster siblings together. There is a biological connection, and siblings may be bonded together due to a shared trauma. Keeping siblings together in foster care has multiple benefits, especially when siblings have gone through difficult times together. The sense of stability and security siblings provide each other is incomparable. Such an arrangement has a tremendously positive impact on future development and social integration.
However, fostering siblings together may not always be possible. Even though it is, it may not be the optimal solution. It may not be possible because the foster family may not have the resources to support all the siblings. Young people require a lot of care and resources and are dependent completely on the foster family to meet their needs and wants. In most cases, families volunteering to foster young people may only be able to support one or two individuals at most. In such circumstances, splitting up siblings is not the ideal solution, but it is the only possible outcome.
Another reason has to do with the welfare of the young people themselves. In certain cases, it is best to separate the siblings. Keeping them together may not be a good idea if siblings feel triggered by one another or need extra attention to address their issues.
Can I Foster A Sibling?
The short answer is yes, it is possible to foster siblings. There are certain conditions attached. Qualifying to be a foster parent is a long and tedious process. It takes a minimum of 4 to 5 months from the time you start your application to get approval. When you request to foster siblings, the process is further delayed as the local authorities and social services need to vet you further. They need to make sure that a potential foster family has the means to support all the siblings and provide them with suitable care. This includes further investigation into the foster family’s finances.
Another issue is the future impact of fostering siblings together on the lives of the young people involved. In most cases, keeping siblings together has a positive effect. This is why social services and local authorities prefer fostering siblings together. Nevertheless, each case is inspected in detail. There are situations where fostering siblings can be counterproductive, for example, when one of the siblings is prone to violent outbursts that may put other siblings in danger. It must be determined whether fostering siblings together is desirable and healthy or not before the fostering arrangement is finalised.
How Do You Foster A Sibling Relationship?
Foster parents may need to put in the effort to help siblings to develop a good relationship. It is true that, in some instances, trauma bonding means that the siblings are very protective of each other. Yet, all kinds of sibling dynamics are present; this implies that sometimes siblings may not get along well. You may have to go out of your way to help the siblings develop a close bond. Trust and cooperation are the basis for any relationship, so build trust among siblings by having them work together. Let the young people in your care help one another, like making the older siblings assist the younger siblings in doing schoolwork. Working together will encourage teamwork, and helping one another leads to siblings respecting each other.
There are plenty of resources available that can aid and support foster parents in navigating the fostering process. If foster parents are struggling, they can get support from the supervising social worker, who is the main point of contact in the arrangement. Aside from this, foster carers have access to 24/7 telephone support, and they also get training before the fostering arrangement. Foster carers have support groups, and they can get together to discuss issues and find solutions together.
Can Foster Siblings Share A Bedroom?
There are certain dos and don’ts when it comes to fostering siblings. One key issue relates to the living arrangement. Even when they get along well, siblings are recommended to have separate rooms. Young people require some level of privacy and space. Given their traumatic past, young people in foster care especially require space to deal with difficult emotions and memories. Even if you, as a foster carer, are unable to provide separate rooms for siblings, you can allocate space within the room available for each sibling. This way, all the young people in your care will at least have some amount of control over their living space. This does not make young people territorial; it is a way to give them some amount of power and control over their lives, and it reduces the feeling of being helpless. With their own space, young people can be taught to be responsible for cleaning and tidying their rooms or areas.
Foster carers already have a huge responsibility when caring for a single person. Fostering siblings comes with added pressure. However, it is a rewarding experience. You can be at ease knowing your efforts have resulted in a family loving together. Foster care is about improving the quality of life for the young people in your care. The safety and stability of a foster home are supposed to make young people develop into productive citizens and allow them to overcome past traumas.
Could You Foster?
The shortage of foster carers has a profound impact on vulnerable children in the UK.
Some children will find themselves living far away from family, friends, and school and being separated from their siblings.
Historically, 70-80% of foster placements have been within 20 miles of the child’s home. That means 20-30% of placements are more than 20 miles away.
It’s obvious that many children will benefit from maintaining their current school and friendship groups, but for others, a change is in their best interests.
The average age of children coming to live with our foster families is 10, so a change of school is imminent.
Nevertheless, every effort must be made to recruit new families in local areas with high demand. If you live in the Northwest or the Midlands and would like to explore becoming a foster carer, we can help.
Get in touch with us by completing our short inquiry form online, or call us at 0800 5 677677.
There is no obligation for anything more than a chat.
Fostering siblings yields a multitude of benefits for both the children involved and the foster care system as a whole.
By nurturing strong bonds, promoting emotional stability, and facilitating healthy development, we create an environment where foster children can truly thrive. These connections extend far beyond their time in foster care, shaping their future journeys and instilling in them a profound sense of belonging that every child deserves.
We witness the transformative power of maintaining familial connections when siblings are kept together.
The emotional support, stability, and companionship they provide to one another lay the foundation for a resilient and secure upbringing. Through shared experiences, they learn important life skills, develop empathy, and forge unbreakable bonds that can endure the tests of time.
Not only do these benefits profoundly impact the lives of individual children, but they also contribute to a healthier foster care system overall.
We create a more stable and nurturing environment for these vulnerable children by prioritising sibling relationships.
Sustaining sibling connections helps alleviate the strain on multiple foster families, fostering a sense of unity and cohesion within the foster care community.
Healing Pasts | Building Futures
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