Vol. 13, No. 2 • May 2009

Study: Siblings Placed Together Reunify Faster

Reprinted from Children’s Bureau Express, vol. 10, no. 1 (Feb. 2009)

While the child welfare field has long recognized that most children in foster care fare better when placed with siblings, a recent study shows that siblings placed together in foster care actually reunify faster than siblings placed apart.

Researchers Vicky N. Albert and William C. King studied 602 children in foster care in Nevada who had at least one sibling in long-term foster care. The study differentiated among the 401 siblings placed completely together, the 99 placed apart, and the 102 placed "partially together" (i.e., some of the siblings in a family were placed together but at least one was placed separately). Researchers also compared relative and nonrelative placements and how these affected reunification patterns.

The findings confirmed that siblings placed together were more likely to reunify than siblings placed in different foster homes. This trend increased over time, especially after the first year. In addition, results suggest that prior to the eighth month and after the twelfth month in care, siblings placed together with relatives returned home faster than those placed completely apart. The rate of reunification for siblings placed partially together most resembled that of siblings placed completely together. Albert and King discuss implications for practice, including the need to recruit, train, and reimburse foster families willing to foster sibling groups in their article, which is available online.

"Survival Analyses of the Dynamics of Sibling Experiences in Foster Care" was published in Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, Vol. 89(4), and is available online: www.familiesinsociety.org/ShowDOIAbstract.asp?docid=3819