On Valentine’s Day (Wednesday, February 14, 2018) we hosted our #FosterChat on Twitter (@SaintAorg), in partnership with the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families and Camp to Belong – Wisconsin. February’s topic was on a love like no other – sibling relationships in foster care. According to our Twitter snapshot on Union Metrics, our twitter chat had just shy of 90,000 potential impressions, reaching 7,487 people.
If you missed this month’s #FosterChat, you can join us next month as we discuss Coping with Grief and Loss on Wednesday, March 14 at Noon (CST) with special guest, Kyle’s Korner. Below is our recap of this month’s chat.
Q1: How is the sibling bond a ‘love like no other’?
A1.b: Sibling relationships can provide a significant source of continuity throughout a child’s lifetime and are likely to be the longest relationships that most people experience. #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) February 14, 2018
A1: Sibling relationships are often the strongest and longest lasting relationships we will experience in our lifetimes. Siblings sometimes even have their own language! And certainly have a unique understanding of one another-unlike other relationships. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) February 14, 2018
A1 Sibs grow in the same environment; they have their own personality, perspectives and understanding of the world. A combination of shared experiences, genetics and comradery links them. When older sibs raise younger ones, the dual role of caretaker and peer lays the foundation— Camp To Belong – WI (@CtbWi) February 14, 2018
Q2: What’s the importance of sibling relationships to children in foster care?
A2: For children entering care, sibling relationships can serve as a buffer against the worst effects of trauma and promote resilience.— SaintA (@SaintAorg) February 14, 2018
Siblings take on extra importance because they can provide the support and nurture that are not consistently provided by parents. #FosterChat
A2: Kids in #fostercare have already lost so much, keeping siblings connected will help them have that built-in support system, as well as maintaining a connection to family history and birth family. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) February 14, 2018
A2 Also,even when place together it is still important to work on building and maintaining sibling connections. CTB-WI believes strongly that ensuring “positive shared experiences” as a means of building and sustaining the sibling bond. #FosterChat— Camp To Belong – WI (@CtbWi) February 14, 2018
A2. I would imagine siblings in foster care help each other feel less alone and like someone in the world cares for them, regardless of the rest of the family structure – or lack thereof. #fosterchat— Michelle Sieg (@MichelleSieg) February 14, 2018
Q3: What do siblings gain by staying together while in foster care?
A3: Foster children can experience losses of significant relationships, siblings are often their only source for continuity of important attachments.— SaintA (@SaintAorg) February 14, 2018
Staying with their brothers and sisters promotes a sense of safety and well-being. #FosterChat
A3: They won't feel as isolated or scared if they are together. They will get to continue sharing experiences with one another and be a support to each other. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) February 14, 2018
A3 Sibs suffer and grieve losses upon removal. Placing together gives them a sense of belonging/assurance of knowing where sibs are, what is going on with them. They support one another while addressing concerns/fears they may have. They begin to heal together #FosterChat— Camp To Belong – WI (@CtbWi) February 14, 2018
A3: for us being a transracial adoptive family, it is extra important to our kids that they have someone in their family who looks like them. #fosterchat— Foster Love Project (@FosterLovePgh) February 14, 2018
They gain connections, stability, a sense of self. They can help encourage and heal each other. When you lose your parents, home, and your entire life turns upside down, there's a sense of comfort and familiarity having your siblings with you. Staying together causes less trauma— Tess (@VanillaSkyTess) February 14, 2018
Q4: What do siblings lose by being separated while in foster care?
A4: “All sense of family, of comfort, of familiarity and of belonging was gone and there was no one except strangers.” –former foster youth— SaintA (@SaintAorg) February 14, 2018
Being separated from siblings can trigger grief and anxiety. #FosterChat
A4: Their relationship/natural sibling bond is disrupted and they may miss out on opportunities to connect and share experiences as they once did. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) February 14, 2018
A4. When siblings are separated they lose a piece of themselves. They not only have lost parents, but they have lost the built-in support person. Imagine growing up with them and then being told you cannot live with them, see them or be apart of their life-Real Trauma #FosterChat— Stephanie Allen (@mrsstepallen81) February 14, 2018
Q5: What are the barriers to placing siblings together in foster care?
A5: Adequacy of Placement Resources— SaintA (@SaintAorg) February 14, 2018
Size – larger sibling groups are more often split
Age Gap – wide age span leads to splitting
Differences in Needs – a sibling with a behavior problem is more likely to be removed#FosterChat
A5: The larger the sibling group size, the harder it can sometimes be to find a home that has the caregiver capacity and enough space to meet the specific needs and accommodate varying schedules of each child. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) February 14, 2018
A5.1: Also, sometimes siblings cannot be safely placed together. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) February 14, 2018
A5 Barrier: a child may be placed with a non-maltreating parent who isn’t the parent to the sibs. The statute defines this parent as a relative allowing the non-biological child to be placed in the home, if appropriate. This change is recent so its not always applied. #FosterChat— Camp To Belong – WI (@CtbWi) February 14, 2018
A5 Finding families that can accomodate larger siblings, and their worry about being able to meet all their needs #fosterchat— Socialworkcommunity (@socialworkcomm) February 14, 2018
Q6: How do we maintain ties between separated siblings?
A6: Arrange playdates, provide joint respite, keep children in their school of origin so there is daily contact, sign siblings up for the same camps or summer programs, encourage communication through phone calls, cards, letters, emails, and social media. #FosterChat— SaintA (@SaintAorg) February 14, 2018
A6: Work with other caregivers to create opportunities for shared experiences. Support regular contact with siblings they are not placed with. Encourage participation in planned visits/other activities (@CtbWi!) that provide opportunities for siblings to connect. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) February 14, 2018
A6 Maintaining connection with sibs is our mission. Our camp includes signature programs created to build and maintain connections. Sibs leave with memories and tangible items that remind them how important their sibs are. We hold quarterly Sibling Connection Events #FosterChat— Camp To Belong – WI (@CtbWi) February 14, 2018
A6 When you have a child in your care that has a sibling that lives somewhere else, it is strongly encouraged that you work with the agency to set up an arrangement for to work with the other providers to set up regular contact. #FosterChat— Camp To Belong – WI (@CtbWi) February 14, 2018
A6: maintain contact through visitation and phone calls #fosterchat— Fostering Footprints (@Fosterfootprint) February 14, 2018
Q7: How can we create cohesiveness between a foster parent’s biological kids and foster kids?
A7: Include your biological children in this life-changing decision to become a foster family.— SaintA (@SaintAorg) February 14, 2018
Keep an open dialogue going throughout the journey.
Intentionally create opportunities for them to work together (i.e. put them on the same team for a family game). #FosterChat
A7: Use family friendly language. Have family rules that apply fairly to everyone.— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) February 14, 2018
Teach your children how to identify, monitor, think about, and react to their own emotions. Enhance positive interactions will all of your children by planning family activities. #FosterChat
A7.1: •Allow each child their own safe space and things to call their own. Also have shared spaces and things to learn to share. Spend one on one time with each child in the home to make them feel important, special, and give them a sense of belonging. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) February 14, 2018
A7 Maintaining consistency between bio kids and foster youth. This can be done by having the same rewards/consequences, expectations and conflict resolution styles for every child in the family. Being trauma informed can go a long way in understanding behaviors. #FosterChat— Camp To Belong – WI (@CtbWi) February 14, 2018
A7. We intentionally made our kids work together. We assigned chores together, teamed them up for games and when they argued we put them in a buddy shirt and they had no choice but to stay together until they were happy with each other again. #fosterchat— Stephanie Allen (@mrsstepallen81) February 14, 2018
Q8: What are the benefits of placing siblings together in foster care?
A8: Children can thrive when placed together!— SaintA (@SaintAorg) February 14, 2018
Oftentimes a child’s “reason to be” is wrapped up in how they’ve cared for one another.
A brother/sister may be the only person who understands/shares their experiences & can help them make sense of their past/new lives. #FosterChat
A8.1: For children: They have someone familiar to share their experience with and the experience may feel less intimidating/scary. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) February 14, 2018
A8.2: For birth parents: I may help birth parents feel more at ease that their children are together even though they are not with them. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) February 14, 2018
A8.3: For foster parents: You may be able to get a better understanding of the siblings’ history or background as children may be more likely to share/talk if they have a sibling with them. #FosterChat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) February 14, 2018
A8.4: For workers: It can sometimes make case work easier because there may be fewer providers to be communicating back and forth with. #fosterchat— Coalition for CYF (@CoalitionforCYF) February 14, 2018
A8 Being placed with sibs can be reassuring and comforting. They know how their sibs are doing and not knowing can be difficult. When transitioning back home sibs who were placed together have fewer adjustments, they don’t need to learn how to be under the same roof #FosterChat— Camp To Belong – WI (@CtbWi) February 14, 2018
A8 Also, form a system perspective: Sibs placed together = fewer providers = easier case planning. These factors can lead to children being returned home sooner #FosterChat— Camp To Belong – WI (@CtbWi) February 14, 2018
Thank you to our passionate community for sharing such thoughtful answers during our chat! We look forward to seeing you again in March!
Learn more about becoming a foster parent at GrowHope.net!
Thank you for joining today's #FosterChat with @CoalitionforCYF and @CtbWi! Keep an eye out for our recap tomorrow.— SaintA (@SaintAorg) February 14, 2018
Our next topic will be Coping with Grief and Loss on March 14 with special guest, @_KylesKorner! pic.twitter.com/9vd1LXpI1L