Survival Analyses of the Dynamics of Sibling Experiences in Foster Care*
More than half of the foster care caseload consists of siblings, and recent policies and practices in child welfare demonstrate a commitment to placing kin together with support partially stemming from the belief those placements help maintain crucial bonds and minimize trauma associated with the parent–child separation. This study consistently shows that those placed completely together are less likely to remain in care over the long run and aids in speeding up the reunification process than those placed completely apart. It also offers insights about patterns of reunification under alternate conditions for siblings placed together, placed partially together, or placed apart. While siblings placed completely or partially together reunify at a faster rate than those placed apart, the gap increases over time, in particular after the first year in care. Future policies and practices need to increase commitments to place siblings together by putting a great deal of effort into recruiting, training, and supporting foster parents willing to take sibling groups and perhaps providing them with extra monetary incentives. Caseworkers will face challenges with some sibling units, such as those that have one or more members that need a much higher level of care or a more restricted environment.
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