When siblings enter foster care, the goal is to keep the children together whenever possible. Sometimes, however, this cannot happen for a variety of reasons. We know from research, that sibling relationships are important for a child’s development and emotional wellbeing. Sibling connections can provide a sense of family identity even if a child is not connected with other birth family members.
If you find yourself fostering a child whose siblings are living somewhere else, there are ways you can support, connect, and assist that child through the emotions and confusion that may come up.
Though you cannot control what happens in their sibling’s placement, you can use this tip sheet to gather ideas about connecting with their family, facilitating visitations, and supporting the children in their feelings and struggles given their unique circumstances.
Supporting the child in your home
In most situations, the relationship a child has with his sibling is and will be the longest one he will have in his life. Being separated can feel isolating – and can be devastating. Siblings who are separated from one another may suffer from grief as a result of the losses they have experienced. Signs of grief could include:
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Withdrawing from others
Most of us are aware of the five stages of grief: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The child in your care may go through some or all of these stages, once or multiple times. If you notice a dramatic change in her appetite, sleep schedule, or school performance, it may be time to consider seeking out professional assistance or support.
When siblings are separated, it doesn’t always mean that they have to be disconnected from one another. Here are some possibilities for helping keep siblings connected: [Continue reading on our website]