There’s always a great deal of media interest when the subject arises of ‘siblings in care’; it’s a very sensitive subject. Keeping siblings together, where appropriate, is everyone’s goal, and looking after a ‘ready-made’ family is as rewarding as it is challenging. As with all children in need of foster care, siblings may have experienced neglect of abuse. Sometimes the eldest child will have ‘parented’ the younger ones, sometimes they may have delayed development or health issues. To reflect the additional demands on foster carers looking after sibling groups, we offer additional support.
- Organisation and routine – frequently, foster children come from chaotic and disjointed home lives. An important part of your role as a foster care is to give them security, stability and routine. Routine means they’ll know what’s happening and when, it gives them a sense of consistency and permanence. They can relax, knowing an adult is in charge.
- Resourcefulness and resilience – these are key skills when caring for any foster children but possibly more so with siblings; rivalry and a well-developed sense of fairness often exists between brothers and sisters, so you’ll need to be all things to all children and bounce back when things get challenging.
- Leadership – we know, it sounds a bit formal, but honestly, you will need to be able to lead your sibling group. For your sake and theirs, establish clear boundaries and stick to them!
- Energy – they will, most definitely, keep you on your toes! Siblings will test your stamina to keep going when you’d rather be curled up on the sofa with a good book.
- Provide a normal family life – even if you’re single now, you will be part of a family once your sibling foster children arrive! Whatever their background or religion, we will help you to provide them with the security and belonging that goes to make up a proper family life.
If you like being busy, fostering siblings is the perfect role for you! Two or more children coming into your life, changing your life as you change theirs. We asked one of our foster carers with siblings to describe the experience. Their response was:
"imagine all the rewards of fostering one child and then multiply them! Like all siblings, they wind each other up from time to time, but this is lessening, we can predict when things are going to get a little strained between them and intervene before they become upset. We can’t imagine life without them. They’re a big part of our family and our own sons have welcomed them as younger siblings. We all spent Christmas with our son who lives in the north west of England and having the three children with us made it an extra special time."
That’s the delightful bonus when you foster a ready-made family!
We’re not unrealistic, when you welcome siblings in to your life, challenges lay ahead. Making sure each child is appreciated as an individual can take up a great deal of time and effort. There may be a ‘pecking order’ where one child continues to manage the other(s), there may be one child who speaks for the other(s) or they may settle quickly and relish the experience of being safe and wanted. Every group is different, so as with all fostering, a sensitive approach is necessary.
Where appropriate, keeping siblings together in care plays a key role in maintaining their mental and physical wellbeing. They may have been their own small support network for quite some time. In these cases, separating them is always the last resort, usually due to the lack of foster care places. By fostering a sibling group, you could keep a little family together.
The need for foster carers for sibling groups is rising quite rapidly. Recent statistics from CoramBAAF show that 51% of the children waiting to be placed were part of a sibling group. This is a percentage increase from 48% last year. You could help change their lives.
We can’t imagine life without them. They’re a big part of our family and our own sons have welcomed them as younger siblings.