The Promise team has launched The Plan 2021-2024. This important document provides a road map for change over the next three years focusing attention on the issues of greatest importance to children, young people, and their families. Protecting and promoting relationships with brothers and sisters is highlighted within the key priorities for change.
The Plan states: “Scotland will stop the practice of separating brothers and sisters, unless for reasons of safety. Relationships between brothers and sisters will be cherished and protected across decision making and through the culture and values of the people who care for them.”
This finding is also supported by current literature and according to Hegar and Rosenthal, 2011, children were reported to feel closer and more comfortable when living with their siblings at their foster carer. Siblings living in different foster homes were reported to have more unstable lives.
Moreover, children that were kept with their siblings had a more positive and long-lasting relationship compared to those who were separated. It was found that placing siblings together positively impacts their relationship with each other by acting as a support after times of trauma and abuse. It also found that they have higher self-esteem, social support, stronger relationships, and are more successful professionally as adults.
Within Care Visions, we have supported a multitude of sibling placements and this has been a positive experience for both the carer and the children. I spent time recently with one of our carers discussing how she used supports available to her to strengthen and support the sibling bond of two children in her care. She advised that when G and H were first placed with her H blamed G for them being removed from their mother’s care. She would often hit out at him and become angry and inconsolable. The carer enrolled in the Theraplay pilot and used the strategies available to her to further enrich her relationship with each of the children. She reported that G was unable at first to make sustained eye contact and that he is now able to do so and will seek her out for comfort and reassurance. She said that H is now much more able to self-regulate and to play.
She said that when she first lived with them; she presented as ‘dour’ whereas now she has found her happy. The carer also had a friend who was a music therapist, and this also helped both children. She spent lots of individual time with each of the children, getting them to feel safe and playing with them and getting them into predictable routines. She spoke of strategies she used such as giving H a locket with a picture of her in it which she could look at whilst at Nursery. The carer said that she supported the children to play together, and the reward is now that they have a loving relationship whereby, they give each other kisses and cuddles. The carer considers that although it has required a lot of hard work and patience they now have a much healthier bond with each other.