Keep the Bond Strong
Every meaningful relationship requires work and commitment. The relationship among brothers and sisters is no different. It is likely to be one of the longest-lasting relationships most people will experience in their lives. From early childhood, brothers and sisters are constant companions and often look to one another for guidance and support. For children in care, maintaining this
relationship becomes critical for their current and future well-being.
According to the Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support, an estimated two-thirds of children and youth in out-of-home care have brothers and sisters. Child welfare agencies strive to keep brothers and sisters together in an effort to retain bonds and prevent additional complex trauma due to separation. The Journal of Interpersonal Violence found that separating children and youth from their siblings may result in higher levels of stress and emotional upset. Preserving the quality of sibling relationships is key to promoting healthy and positive behavioral health outcomes for children and youth.
Resource parents play a significant role in strengthening and maintaining sibling connections, even when children are placed in different homes. The National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning offers the following tips for caregivers:
- If deemed appropriate and permitted by the children’s social workers, allow children to use different social media platforms such as FaceTime, Skype and Snapchat to visit briefly on a daily basis
- Look into reunion-type events designed specifically to connect children and youth with their brothers and sisters such as Together We Belong sponsored by the Eddie Nash Foundation
- Consider providing respite for the resource parents caring for your child’s brothers and sisters
- Encourage children to talk about their brothers and sisters and celebrate special moments together
- Create a special photo memory book of all visits with your child’s brothers and sisters
- If the children are close in age, have them join the same sports league such as soccer, baseball or softball