Research Abstracts: Siblings in Care

Author: Hindle, Debbie
Title: Clinical research: a psychotherapeutic assessment model for siblings in care
Reference: Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 33(1), April 2007, pp.70-93

Abstract: This paper focuses on the aspects of a qualitative research project that examines an assessment protocol for the placement of siblings in foster care or future adoption. Evaluating the material from the quantitative instruments used and the psychotherapeutic assessments, the author identified two predominant themes. The first, cumulative trauma, pointed to the pervasive nature of the children’s early experiences, as manifest through their presentation and play. The second, relatedness and belonging, highlighted aspects of the children’s shared memories and experiences. Clinical vignettes illustrate how these themes related to the children’s sibling relationships. The study noted the tendency for those caring for or working with the children to underestimate the children’s meaning to each other and emphasised the importance of assessing the children’s perspectives where decisions are made in child care cases. Further questions were raised as to whether more could be done to mediate or facilitate sibling relationships for children who have suffered early deprivation or abuse.

Author: Leathers, Sonya J
Title: Separation from siblings: associations with placement adaptation and outcomes among adolescents in long-term foster care
Reference: Children and Youth Services Review 27(7), July 2005, pp.793-819

Abstract: Although practice guidelines support the placement of siblings in the same foster home, many sibling groups are separated. Little empirical knowledge is available to understand why siblings are separated or how different sibling placement patterns are related to children’s placement adaptation and permanency outcomes. These questions were investigated using data from a study involving telephone interviews with the caseworkers and foster parents of a cross-sectional sample of 197 randomly selected young adolescents in long-term, traditional family foster care. Placement outcomes, including placement disruption, reunification, and adoption, were followed prospectively for five years. Results of multivariate analyses indicate that adolescents who were placed alone after a history of joint sibling placements were at greater risk for placement disruption than those placed with a consistent number of siblings while in foster care. This association was mediated by a weaker sense of integration and belonging in the foster home among youth placed alone with a history of sibling placements. Unexpectedly, youth placed alone, either throughout their stay in foster care or after a history of sibling placements, were less likely to exit to adoption or subsidised guardianship than youth with consistent joint sibling placements.

Author: Wulczyn, Fred and Zimmerman, Emily
Title: Sibling placements in longitudinal perspective
Reference: Children and Youth Services Review 27(7), July 2005, pp.741-763

Abstract: Here, the matter of sibling placements is approached with longitudinal data, differentiating between the notions of togetherness and intactness in order to describe the placement experiences of sibling groups. It was found that, although siblings often enter care on the same day, they make up less than half the groups entering care. It was also found that small sibling groups are more likely to be placed intact. So, too, are siblings placed with relatives. As for intactness over time, more sibling groups were intact at six months as a percentage of children still in care than at the time of placement. Moreover, there is evidence that separated siblings who remain in care are sometimes brought together over time, sibling group size and placement type affect the likelihood that siblings are brought together, and children who follow their siblings into care are less likely to be placed with a sibling compared with siblings who enter foster care on the same day.

Author: Jones, Laura and Kruk, Edward
Title: Life in government care: the connection of youth to family
Reference: Child and Youth Care Forum, 34(6), December 2005, pp.405-421

Abstract: This Canadian study examines the family attachments of young people who have lived in foster care. Though young people are the primary recipients of services in the child welfare system, their voices are seldom heard both in research and their own plans of care. Data were gathered through a questionnaire distributed to 17 to 24-year-olds. They named siblings more frequently than any other family member with whom they now have contact, and identified their birth family as their primary attachment. Those who lived in many foster homes said they did not feel part of any family. Many stated that they did not feel listened to by their social workers. Support for co-operative relationships between foster parents and birth parents are discussed as ways to prevent young people severing family ties.


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