The bond between siblings is not always smooth sailing; at the same time, there is no doubt, siblings are there during difficult times. Dr Terri Apter (Child Psychologist) quotes siblings “know you better than anyone. They may not always admire you, but they’ll always be intensely interested in you.” That interest can impact the “behavioural outcomes as the children grow up.”
That being the case, what do you think will happen when siblings are separated? The cause of separation can include the following reasons found from Foster Care UK.
● Behavioural difficulties
● Shortage of space
● Large commitment for carers
● Definition of sibling
● Shortage of carers
Even with these reasons, the impact on their emotional development needs taking into account. Firstly, when children are in care, it could be a means to protect them from a hostile or dangerous home environment. Therefore siblings from those backgrounds may already be vulnerable and be accustomed to relying on each other for support. When siblings go through trauma, reassurance from their sibling helps as they have shared experience. Before separating siblings, all options need consideration.
Siblings can be placed into care after a significant amount of time after being exposed to traumatic events. Separating siblings after this point can leave them feeling lost and cause anxieties to do with their separation. A sibling can take on the role of carer – the sibling who needs care due to neglect can be left to process the change alone.
After the BBC researched more than 200 local authorities in the UK on sibling separation – more than half of the siblings in care were separated. Splitting siblings up in some cases can result in their relationship slowly fading away while they progress through life without each other.
A child welfare report highlighted all the possible issues of separating siblings and strategies that would allow siblings not to be separated. When the wide-scale problem is solved, it can finally help those in foster care move forward with their life.
The benefits of keeping siblings together when fostering include:
● Moving into a new environment can be scary, the process can be made easier with a trusted friend and companion by their side – a sibling.
● Able to rely on their sibling who has shared experience to help them with their mental health and emotional wellbeing.
● They can develop their understanding of their sense of identity and belonging. In cases where foster carers are of a different ethnic group, this can be beneficial. ● Opportunity to develop and strengthen their relationship whilst they heal from traumatic experiences together.
The innate bond between siblings can help them get through the difficult times of adjusting to a new school, home or neighbourhood.
To conclude, separating siblings during the fostering process can have a detrimental effect on the rest of their lives; keeping siblings together can prevent the grief of losing a relationship with your sibling.