Overview: A look at the reasons behind the need for more foster homes for siblings in the north east region. Introducing the benefits and challenges of sibling fostering. Find out about the role of attachment and trauma-informed care. Plus, calculation examples for sibling fostering pay.
Fostering siblings in the North East
The Fostering Company has been proudly providing fostering services as an independent agency since 2013. We work in partnership with local authorities and foster carers to find loving homes for children and young people across the North East. In recent years, the need for foster carers has increased. Right now, there’s a need for more foster carers who can provide homes for siblings in foster care in Newcastle and surrounding areas.
What happens when siblings need foster care?
When siblings become looked after children, we will always aim to keep them together where possible and appropriate. Family dynamics or complex circumstances sometimes mean it’s better for children to be cared for in different foster homes.
Where it is in the best interests of brothers and sisters to stay together, we look for foster carers who can meet the needs of each young person. Anecdotal evidence suggests the rising cost of living and an increase in people working from home means there are now fewer people with spare bedrooms.
If you have one or more spare bedrooms and would like to explore the possibility of fostering siblings, you’re in the right place. This post will introduce you to the realities of sibling fostering to help you make an informed choice.
Could you help keep brothers and sisters together?
The benefits and challenges of sibling fostering
When children come into foster care, staying with their siblings is something they often say is most important to them. Foster carers can feel an immense sense of reward when they can make this happen. Of course, looking after larger groups of children and young people with individual needs brings challenges. There are more children to look after and you will need time and resources to dedicate to them as individuals. But foster carers find that with sibling groups, the benefits of fostering multiply, too.
Challenges of Sibling Foster Care
Meeting different needs
Children and young people come into foster care because they’re unable to stay at home safely.
Whether this is because of the illness of a parent, neglect or abuse, siblings are likely to have shared trauma but unique experiences and different reactions to it.
Fostering sibling groups means foster carers need to be able to meet a range of different needs. As a sibling foster carer, you would receive our support to do this.
Introducing changes and routine
The family dynamics and experiences of family life for siblings who come into care can be complex.
Extra patience is often needed to introduce healthy routines to multiple children. Young people may need time to change harmful habits they’ve collectively become used to.
At the Fostering Company, we use an attachment and trauma-informed care approach to help children heal and process their emotions.
Time and resources
Like any family, looking after more children requires more time, space, and patience.
There are likely to be extra appointments, school runs or activities. You’ll need time and resources to meet the needs of each young person in your care.
To do this, you will receive:
- additional fostering allowance for each child
- specialist training
- support and advice from your foster care support team.
Benefits of Sibling Foster Care
Siblings often report that being with their brothers or sisters feels like ‘home’ to them.
Staying together at a difficult time of transition can give children a sense of belonging.
It can help them to feel more supported and less isolated. In turn, this can support stability.
Staying with their siblings can provide a sense of familiarity and continuity to children of all ages.
Placing siblings together can protect meaningful relationships for children and young people.
Seeing siblings thrive
When you foster siblings, you don’t just get to see each child develop their individual personalities.
You also have the privilege of supporting and seeing the long-term development of sibling relationships.
These critical relationships are supported, and siblings can experience stable family life together.
“When caring for siblings, it is important to consider the family dynamics from the lens of their previous care and family dynamics. As their foster carers, it is your role to acknowledge the challenges and worries children are facing, and through your parenting, support children to heal.” The Fostering Network
5 Top Tips for Fostering Siblings
As you’d expect, foster families with fostered siblings experience many of the same challenges and rewards as other families. As a foster carer, you’ll also need to be mindful of the impact adverse childhood experiences can have on children. The needs of each child are unique and different, but from experience, we know these top tips can help foster carers when looking after sibling groups.
- Be available. Be sure to dedicate time and attention to getting to know each child and forming a bond individually.
- Give your time and patience. You’ll need to call on this powerful combination to meet the differing needs of children in your care, who might be overcoming trauma or need to learn to trust.
- Be a role model and set boundaries. The family dynamics in your home are likely to be different to those children from other homes are used to. You should role model new routines and set healthy boundaries. For example, some older children may be used to looking after younger siblings. Children might not have experienced family meal times. Helping children to adjust can take time, patience and consistency.
- Encourage children’s individual growth. By learning about each child’s interests and talents, you can encourage them to pursue activities that support their personal growth and develop their confidence without their siblings. Hobbies and interests can help foster children to make new friends, grow their support network and allow each child to flourish.
- Plan collaborative activities. Coming together as a foster family to do activities where everyone can be involved can help build relationships and teach children about sharing, conflict resolution and problem-solving. Whether it’s baking together, a regular movie night or a trip to the seaside, look for opportunities to involve everyone in planning and taking part.
The Attachment and Trauma Informed CareTM (ATICTM) approach and PACE when fostering siblings
When you become a foster carer with the Fostering Company, you will receive an introduction to attachment and trauma in fostering as part of your training. The training will help you understand the experiences of children in your care and how these may translate to different behaviours or needs you see.
You will also learn about the principles of PACE, which stands for Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy. The approach helps you to understand different behaviours and how to stay calm and regulated even when faced with challenging behaviour. In turn, this helps to build trust with the children in your care.
Can sibling foster children share a bedroom?
One of the barriers to placing siblings together is that fewer homes have the space to provide a bedroom for each child. Where appropriate to the circumstances and ages of the children, same-sex siblings may be able to share a bedroom. Shared bedrooms need to fit separate or bunk beds along with plenty of space for storage for each child.
If you would like to explore this, you can discuss it with your social worker during your assessment. Your assessing social worker will make recommendations of the types of fostering and number of children you may be able to foster as part of the approval process.
How much money do you get for fostering siblings?
The amount you receive as a foster carer is determined by factors including the number of children staying with you, the type of foster care and the ages of children in your care. As a sibling foster carer, you will receive multiple payments.
1. If you looked after two siblings aged under 10, you would receive £391.67 per week x 2 = £783.34
2. If you looked after two siblings aged over 10, you would receive £444.38 per week x 2 = £888.76
3. If you looked after two siblings (one aged under 10, one aged over), you would receive £391.67 + £444.38 = £836.05
You can learn more about the breakdown of fostering payments on our payments and benefits page. You can also contact our foster carer enquiries team with any finance related questions you’d like to ask.
Would you like to find out more about sibling foster care?
We’ve tried to answer some frequently asked questions about fostering siblings in this post. But we appreciate that you may have more specific queries. If you’re interested in exploring whether you could help siblings stay together in foster care in the North East, why not come along to a fostering awareness event? You can also speak to our team, who will be happy to answer any questions you may have.