Keeping Siblings Together
The Imprint is highlighting each of the policy recommendations made this summer by the participants of the Foster Youth Internship Program, a group of 12 former foster youth who have completed congressional internships.
The annual program is overseen by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that raises awareness about the needs of children without families. Each of the participants crafted a policy recommendation during their time in Washington, D.C.
Today we highlight the recommendation from Isabel Rodriguez, a recent graduate with high honors from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Rodriguez includes three ideas for improving America’s commitment to keeping siblings connected in foster care. She proposes that Congress pass the Protecting Sibling Relationships in Foster Care Act; establish new incentives for states that expand the number of foster homes willing and ready to take large sibling groups and fund a GAO study to track state-by-state progress on keeping siblings together.
Despite the fact that sibling connections are among the strongest bonds that anyone will have in their life, Rodriguez writes, the majority of children who enter foster care with a sibling will be separated from at least one of them. Congress has passed legislation before that instructs states to keep siblings together whenever possible, but more needs to be done, she argues.
In Their Own Words
“Though I repeatedly tried to communicate with my brother, my requests were denied. It wasn’t until four years after we had entered foster care that I was finally allowed to meet my brother. We had grown so far apart by this point that we no longer felt like we were reuniting with a loved one. Rather, we both felt as if we were meeting a stranger that the world believed was our sibling.”