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Sibling Visitation Essay

1051 words - 5 pages

Preserving and maintaining sibling ties and relationships has been an ongoing problem in the foster care system. Hegar (2005) states that “since the decades when orphans trains carried children westward, placement of siblings has been a child welfare issue” (p.719). Studies have noted the inadequate number of siblings in foster care being placed together date back as far as 1921 (Theis and Goodrich, 1921). Research and legislative efforts to address the problem of separation of siblings in foster care have intensified (Hegar, 1988). The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 has been instrumental in increasing legislation, specifically addressing the issue of sibling placements at the ...view middle of the document...

Despite the findings that the sibling bond is crucial to child development and adjustment, there are many obstacles and challenges to keeping siblings together once they enter foster care (Kernan, 2005).
Primary Causes of Problem
For many years, sibling relationships have been ignored in social science research as well in child welfare laws (Kernan, 2005). However, recently policymakers and research scientists are acknowledging just how important the sibling bond is, which has led to more research, new policies, and development of innovative programs that focus on sibling bonds (Kernan, 2005). Social workers, Judges, and advocates are supposed to uphold the legislation to keep siblings together, however many challenges have affected siblings and their connections are often lost.
There are several related reasons for separating siblings when they are placed into foster care. Caseworkers and advocates are often faced with the difficulty in finding and maintaining placements for sibling groups (Leathers, 2005). Research has proven that the placing of large sibling groups together is a challenge. Research also indicates that siblings are more likely to be placed in different homes if there is a gap in the ages of the children (Leathers, 2005). Another reason for separating siblings is in cases of sibling sexual or physical abuse (Leathers, 2005). Another known challenge in maintaining sibling connection results in the fact that siblings sometimes enter care at different times. There are even times when children enter care through different agencies, different jurisdictions, and some children may have not lived together prior to entering foster care (Kernan, 2005).
Social workers in rural areas are faced with fewer resources which mean less placement options. With less placement options, it is harder to place larger sibling groups together, and often the social worker has to look for homes outside the county. When siblings are split up and placed in different homes in different counties it is harder to maintain the sibling connection because of the distance between the homes. Visitation between the siblings becomes a challenge due to time, funds, and availability of all parties involved. Rural counties have fewer social workers which mean higher caseloads for those social workers. With high caseloads social workers often forget about enforcing sibling visitation, and looking for alternative placements that would...

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