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May 2008Vol. 9, No. 4Sibling Placement in Foster Care

Placing siblings together when they enter out-of-home care is widely accepted as a best practice in child welfare in most cases. A new review of published research examined 11 studies on sibling placement conducted between 1998 and 2005 to gather further information on sibling placement, the benefits and challenges of conjoint placement, and theories guiding research on sibling placement. Overall, the results highlight the strong support that exists in favor of placing siblings together when they are removed from the care of their parents. The benefits associated with conjoint placement include:

  • More harmonious relationships between siblings
  • Fewer emotional and behavioral problems in preschool years
  • Better mental health and socialization for female children

However, placing brothers and sisters together often can be a challenging task for child welfare workers. Current research indicates that larger sibling groups are more likely than smaller groups to be placed separately, because fewer foster homes are willing to accept multiple children and larger sibling groups are less likely to enter foster care simultaneously. Also, studies suggest that kinship homes are more conducive to maintaining conjoint placement.

The full study, "Research Review: Sibling Placement in Foster Care: A Review of the Evidence" by Karla Washington, was published in Child and Family Social Work, Volume 12(4), and is available from the publisher: