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Fostering siblings

We do everything possible to keep siblings together when they are placed into foster care. This type of foster care is in demand. Can you provide a home for brothers and sisters who may have never experienced the safety and security of a stable environment together?

What needs do siblings in foster care have?

Siblings might enter into foster care as emergency or short-term to begin with. Same sex siblings might be able to share a room (see the spare room guidance), but a brother and sister will need a bedroom each. The situation needs a foster carer who doesn’t feel daunted by the arrival of more than one foster child at a time.

Local authorities are required to place children with their siblings if it’s practical and appropriate to do so. Evidence suggests that brothers and sisters value their relationships; being together often provides comfort and a sense of belonging during a difficult time.

In 2020, a BBC File on 4 Freedom of Information request to the Department of Education revealed that more than half of fostered siblings are split up. If more siblings are still at the family home or in foster care elsewhere, they will need reassuring about how they are coping and if they are being cared for properly.

Older children in sibling groups might find it hard to let go of being primary care-givers, if that is the role they have adopted. The group may have its own particular patterns of behaviour or act out together. Issues like these will usually adjust as the siblings re-establish themselves in a safe, supportive environment.

We know the level of support we gives makes a huge difference. For instance, Mr & Mrs W were anxious about looking after a sibling group of 4 children, as they were all very close in ages and they knew from training, as well as personal experience, they would have very different and individual needs.

However after discussing the referral with the referrals manager and myself, and getting further information about the children’s backgrounds, they felt that they were ready to offer the children a home full of love and nurture. By involving the whole team around the children, the foster carers were provided with the support and guidance that they needed to meet the needs of the children and enable them to remain together.

Karen, Supervising Social Worker, National Fostering Group

What you get from fostering siblings

Foster carers who can accommodate sibling groups are in demand. You will need to provide a room for each child depending on their age and gender, and be prepared to dedicate extra time, enthusiasm and energy to meet the needs of all individual siblings.

If there are additional siblings being fostered elsewhere, you will need to help your foster siblings maintain a relationship with them. You will also have to liaise with the birth or with adoptive parents if the fostered siblings are to be adopted.

There is also the chance that short-term sibling fostering could turn into a long-term care.

When you’re thinking of becoming a foster parent, your suitability for fostering siblings will be considered during your assessment, and your basic training will also cover it.

Our sibling foster carers don’t do this alone: National Fostering Group provides excellent support and training. You have a dedicated Supervising Social Worker who is backed by an experienced local team, access to 24/7 advice and excellent training delivered in your area.

If you think this type of fostering would suit you, please enquire now.

Experiences of fostering siblings

Christine and Shahzad found their brother and sister siblings very challenging to begin with. The three children were experiencing issues at school and they couldn’t read or write; a simple pleasure like going away on holiday proved too much the first time.

Three years on, fostering these siblings long-term still has its challenges, but the couple’s persistence is paying off. The children’s’ education is improving well, and out of school activities are building their confidence.

Read Christine and Shahzad’s full story about the different types of fostering they have done, including looking after these siblings. You might also be interested in Marie and Carol’s story.

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Find out if you could be a foster carer
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