Siblings

For information on the Fostering Connections Act and siblings, click here.

  • Sasha’s Digital Story
    In this NRCPFC Digital Story, Sasha shares her experiences in foster care, which reveal the importance of sibling relationships and visitation. She also talks about school and post-secondary education.

General Resources

  • Working with Siblings in Foster Care: A Web-based NRCPFC Toolkit
    This new web-based toolkit from the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) provides an overview of what we know about sibling relationships for children and youth in foster care; shares children/youth’s views of siblings, as well as legal and policy definitions of siblings; and discusses how siblings are addressed in the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 and Child and Family Service Reviews. Based on a review of the literature and current practice, the toolkit is organized into ten dynamic practice components. The toolkit discusses each practice component and provides related resources and policy examples. The toolkit also includes an organizational self study, which child welfare agencies can use to review their policies and practices and identify technical assistance and training needs.  

  • Adoption & Sibling Relationships: What Children Have Taught Me
    This article from Adoptalk, North American Council of Adoptable Children, addresses sibling issues that may arise in adoptive families. (Spring 2008)
  • How Siblings Fare in Difficult Adoptions
    This article, which originally appeared in the Summer 2004 issue of Adoptalk, the newsletter of the North American Council on Adoptable Children, discusses ways to help children when a sibling with challenges joins the family. (2004)
  • Siblings in Out-of-Home Care: An Overview
    This statement from Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support articulates their beliefs about good practice in working with siblings in the child welfare system. (April 2003).

Resources Supporting Joint Sibling Placement

  • Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model
    This brief, available on the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare website, describes the Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model, a child-centered, family-focused foster care model designed to keep sibling groups, including large sibling groups, together in stable foster care placements while working intensively on reunification or permanency plans that keep the siblings together. It explains that the Neighbor to Family Sibling Foster Care Model began in 1994 serving targeted communities in Chicago and uses a community-based, team-oriented approach, including foster caregivers and birth parents as part of the treatment team. Information is provided on essential components of the model, symptoms and behaviors that the program is designed to address in parents and children, recommended parameters, delivery settings, resources needed to run the program, minimum provider qualifications, educational and training resources for the program, and relevant published, peer-reviewed research findings. The program is given a scientific rating of 3 on a scale of 1-5 and designated as having promising research evidence. (2012)

  • Survival Analyses of the Dynamics of Sibling Experiences in Foster Care
    This article, authored by Vicky N. Albert and William C. King and published in Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, reports on a study that found that siblings placed together in foster care reunify more quickly than those placed separately. The researchers reviewed data concerning 602 children in foster care in Nevada, including 401 siblings placed together, 99 placed apart and 401 children who were placed with some, but not all, of their siblings. The article concludes with recommendations for policy and practice. The complete article can be obtained online after a free registration process. (2008)
  • Are Brothers and Sisters a Good Source of Support?
    This brief from Data Trends summarizes research that indicates that children who experience stressful life events are less likely to experience an increase in internalizing symptoms if they have an affectionate relationship with an older sibling. This protective effect was not dependent on the quality of the relationship between the mother and child, so it is possible that older siblings may be an important source of the support and comfort usually assumed to be the responsibility of a parent. (November 2007)
  • Sibling Issues in Foster Care and Adoption
    One of the most critical contributions that child welfare professionals can provide for children who enter care is to preserve their connections with their brothers and sisters. Children who come into foster care or are adopted often are separated from existing or future siblings. This bulletin from the Child Welfare Information Gateway explores research and intervention strategies, as well as resources, to assist professionals in preserving connections among siblings. (2006)
  • Keeping Siblings Together Past, Present and Future
    This article from Youth Law News focuses on the importance of the bond between siblings and shares research findings on the positive outcomes of the joint placement of siblings in foster care. Obstacles to joint placement are explored, and the lack of federal legislation promoting sibling joint placement (at the time the article was written) is discussed. State legislation on joint placement and sibling visitation is then described, particularly California's policymaking in the area of sibling rights. Finally, court litigation and decisions on sibling rights are examined. (October/December 2005)

Resources on Sibling Visitation

  • Organizational Self Study on Parent-Child and Sibling Visits
    NRCPFC created this self study assessment tool to assist agencies with reviewing the core principles of parent-child and sibling visiting. The tool is designed to review overall agency readiness, assess administrative policies, and identify strengths and challenges in parent-child and sibling visiting practice. This assessment tool can aid you in shaping your technical assistance needs. (May 2011)

Resources from the States

  • New York:
    • Flexibility in Sleeping Arrangement Requirements for Sibling Foster Care Placements
      The purpose of this Informational Letter was to advise local departments of social services and voluntary authorized agencies of newly promulgated amendments to 18 NYCRR 443.3 regarding certification and approval of foster family boarding homes. The regulatory amendments allow greater flexibility for the placement of sibling groups cared for in foster boarding homes. (July 21, 2010)
    • Keeping Siblings Connected: A White Paper on Siblings in Foster Care and Adoptive Placements In New York State
      This paper emphasizes the importance of the sibling bond to children’s development and emotional well-being. Siblings are family, and the connection to family helps give children their identity as well as their feeling of belonging in the world. This white paper addresses the benefits as well as the challenges of taking siblings into account in every foster care and adoptive placement and every visiting plan. The paper includes a summary of the statutes and regulations regarding siblings, a review of policies in other states, a discussion of issues, and recommendations for improving placement and visits with siblings for children in foster care and adoption. (June 2007)
  • North Carolina: Fostering Perspectives: Honoring and Maintaining Sibling Connections
    This issue of Fostering Perspectives, sponsored by the NC Division of Social Services and the Family and Children’s Resource Program, discusses the importance of sibling connections for children and youth in care; how to strengthen these connections; and some ways agencies can support sibling placements. The Kid’s Page includes letters from children and youth about what their siblings mean to them. (November 2009)
  • Wisconsin: Sibling Placements: Questions and Answers
    Legislation passed in 2006 require agencies to make specific efforts regarding placements of siblings in out-of-home care and in adoption. This memorandum provides information about the requirements in a question-and-answer format. (February 2007)
Curriculum
  • NRCPFC Sibling Practice Curriculum
    The overall training objectives of this curriculum are to: enhance understanding of issues concerning siblings in out-of-home care; expand knowledge and skills in making appropriate placement decisions for sibling groups; enhance knowledge and skills in the recruitment and retention of resource families willing and able to parent sibling groups; enhance ability to present appropriate information to the court to support sibling groups; and, increase knowledge of policy and legislation affecting sibling placements in participants' jurisdictions.

Teleconference

  • Siblings: Critical Life-Long Connections
    Listen to the audio files and download handouts from this teleconference on siblings in out-of-home care, hosted jointly by the NRCPFC and the Child Welfare League of America for state foster care and adoption managers. (May 2006)

NRCPFC Information Packets

Bibliographies

  • Siblings in Foster Care
    This bibliography is from the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect and National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, now the Child Welfare Information Gateway. (April 2006).

PowerPoint Presentations

  • NRCPFC Presentation on Sibling Placements and Sibling Visits
    The Nebraska Children's Summit is a statewide conference sponsored by the Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative and the Nebraska Supreme Court where participants spend three days focusing on improving the child welfare court system in the State. Specific topics included: infants and toddlers, older youth, educational outcomes, parents' legal representation, and engaging families. Local multidisciplinary teams of judges, attorneys and social workers participated as well as other individuals involved in the child welfare system. Madelyn Freundlich, NRCPFC Consultant, presented the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections Sibling Toolkit as part of the “engaging families” track and provided participants with critical information on their legal obligations regarding sibling placements and sibling visits and on best practices that have been developed across the United States. (2012)
    Supporting Sibling Relationships PowerPoint
    Supporting Sibling Relationships: The Roles of Key Stakeholders

  • Siblings in Out-of-Home Care
    A brief overview of policy, legislation, litigation, and advocacy from 2002 through 2005. (January 2006)
  • Sibling Connection
    Lynn Price of Camp To Belong and Karyn Schimmels of the Oregon Department of Human Services developed this presentation and use it at a variety of trainings and conferences to educate on the meaning and importance of sibling bonds. If you are interested in using this PowerPoint, please contact Lynn for more information and presentation tips. (2006)

Websites

  • Child Welfare Information Gateway: National Foster Care Month 2011
    In 2011, the Child Welfare Information Gateway National Foster Care Month websection focused on “Building Connections Through Meaningful Family Engagement.” This section of the website provides resources for child welfare professionals seeking to support enduring relationships with siblings for children who experience foster care, including State and local examples.
  • Camp To Belong
    Camp To Belong has been reuniting brothers and sisters placed in separate foster, adoptive or kinship homes through camp programs and reunions since 1995. Their primary goal is to provide a sense of belonging to youth as individuals, and as siblings, giving them opportunities to share childhood memories together and among other youth in the same situations.
  • Neighbor to Family
    Neighbor To Family is a foster placement program for sibling groups. They also serve children with special needs and older foster children who are preparing to transition to independent living. Their family-centered approach brings together birth parents, foster care givers, highly qualified program staff, and interested community agencies to provide quality foster care services for abused and neglected children and their parents.
  • Youth Commutations - Sibling Stories
    This topic page from Youth Communication addresses stories by youth regarding sibling relationships. Teachers and other adults can use the stories and related lessons to help students improve their reading and writing skills, and improve the social and emotional skills that support school success and positive life changes.

Last updated 2/6/13