“Throughout their lifespan, people who have close sibling relationships have better mental health, better psychological health, and better social relationships.”

For the estimated 80% of Americans who have siblings, many can attest to the importance their sibling relationship has on their life. And while researchers and child welfare professionals alike have begun to understand the vital role positive sibling connections plays in a child’s felt safety, health, and development, it is estimated that anywhere from 50-80% of children in foster care have a sibling from who they are separated. At Bloom, we seek to provide safe, loving homes for children experiencing foster care and when possible, this includes striving to keep siblings together.

When children enter foster care, they are often separated from everything they have ever known – their home, their family, their school, and friends. Even though this is for their safety and well-being, it is still scary, upsetting, and traumatic. The situation can be exasperated even more if a child is separated from their siblings and placed in different homes. That is why it is vital to keep siblings together whenever possible. When it’s not possible, efforts should be made to maintain their sibling bond through visits, phone calls, and other means. Research has found that preserving these sibling connections leads to better outcomes for children in care, such as greater placement stability, fewer emotional and behavioral difficulties, increased well-being, improved school performance, and better adjustment to the new environment of their foster home.

I know firsthand the significant impact a sibling relationship can have on a child in foster care. When I was eight years old, I was removed from my biological mother and placed in a guardianship placement. When I was 11, I moved from that placement to a private, long-term group home placement, where I would remain until graduating high school and heading off to college. While in this long-term placement, I had two different sets of full-time house parents. I never knew my father and my relationship with my mother remains tumultuous to this day. But there is one person who has been a steady figure throughout the course of my life. Someone who was with me at each placement, and even after he graduated high school and went to college and then the military, he still checked in on me. That someone is my older brother, Robby. I am thankful that we had adults in our lives who grasped the importance of keeping us together even when we could not safely remain with our mother. While there have been times of uncertainty or anxiety in my life, as anyone who grew up in foster care can attest, Robby has always been a certainty that I can count on. I know I am never truly alone as long as I have my brother.   

If you’ve been thinking about fostering but haven’t quite committed, I hope that this may be the final push you need. Think about sibling relationships in your life. No one knows you better than your siblings – they are your best friends and have been by your side since birth. Now imagine being separated from them during a time when you need them the most. You can make a difference by helping us keep siblings together. Consider opening your home to accommodate siblings so that they can remain together.

Please share this message with your friends, family, or anyone in your circle of impact that might be interested in becoming a foster parent. If you have any questions, you can email foster@bloomfosters.org. Let us work together to meet the needs of foster children in our communities and do what we can to make families whole once more.

Written by Ashley Brown, Bloom Lead Licensing Specialist

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