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September/October 2001Vol. 2, No. 5Article Highlights Foster Programs That Keeps Siblings Together

In Connect for Kids, an electronic newsletter and website sponsored by the Benton Foundation, Julee Newberger writes about a program that helps siblings in foster care stay together.

Older children and children with developmental disabilities are more likely to be separated from siblings as are members of larger sibling groups and members of sibling groups who enter the foster care system at different times, the article notes. Separated siblings also tend to have multiple placements. This separation can be traumatic, especially for children who have learned to rely on each other in a dysfunctional family.

Newberger interviewed a foster mother in Florida who was able to reunite her 5-year-old foster son with his 3 siblings through the Neighbor to Family program. The local foster care agency specializes in keeping siblings together. Newberger also spoke to staff at the Jane Addams Hull House Association in Chicago that created the Neighbor to Neighbor program in 1994. This Illinois State-funded program that places sibling groups together with foster parents served as a model for Neighbor to Family. In both programs, foster parents become professionally paid employees that help manage decisions about the children as part of a team.

Newberger shows how the support team provided by Neighbor to Family helps to address problems related to sibling rivalry. She also discusses a new federally funded Neighbor to Neighbor Training Program, which provides technical assistance to States interested in replicating the program.

Read the article online at: