Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What is a sibling?

In my own family and support structure, I use the term Sibling quite loosely.  It could mean anything from biological to proximity to spiritually (I have a sneaking suspicion that we are all quite related anyway).  I'm quite lucky in that my bio family shares such an open heart for my siblings too.

What is a sibling?

We'll start with good ole Webster:

 1. one of two or more individuals having one common parent.
 2. one of two or more things related by a common tie or characteristic.

Pennsylvania does a good job of allowing families to define themselves.  Families can come in many different shapes and sizes these days, and are usually recognized by child welfare professionals.  What happens with siblings though?  What if siblings have different fathers or mothers?  The definition is not as easily applied to these examples, especially in situations where siblings are in separate placements.

Pennsylvania does not always do a good job of keeping siblings together.  We don't always do a good job of creating permanency and maintaining bonds for them either.  Being in the field, it is VERY difficult to place a sibling group of three into the same foster home but, this does not mean we need to stop looking for one placement resource for this family.  I hear from the Youth Advisory Board loud and clear, that some of the most difficult times being a foster youth come from being separated from their family, and siblings.  When you are used to being someone's playmate 24/7, 1 hour visits, twice a month just are not enough to help deal with the pain of separation.


a) A priority must be made to keep siblings together.
b) We need to recruit Resource families who are able to take in sibling groups.
c) When sibling groups are unable to be placed together, quality and quantity of visitation needs to be considered.  Case workers need to know that the requirement of twice a month visits is simply not enough.

Twice A Month, Is Not Enough! (Let's here the rally cry!)

Why is your sibling important to you?  What is is about the bound between siblings?

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