April 10 is National Siblings Day – Here is why we celebrate our #SuperSiblings
At SOS Children’s Villages Illinois, our mission is to build families for children in need, help them shape their own futures, and share in the development of their communities. At the very heart of our model of care is a focus on keeping brothers and sisters in foster care together. To help them continue growing as a family, sibling groups are cared for by a full-time, professionally trained Foster Parent in a single-family home in our Villages.
Separation of Siblings in Foster Care
Approximately two-thirds of U.S. children in foster care also have a sibling in care. More often than not, these siblings are placed in separate foster homes – sometimes never to see one another again – furthering an already extremely difficult and painful situation for these children.
“Separating siblings who have been temporarily or permanently removed from their parents can severely intensify grief and trauma. In some cases sibling separations can be even more traumatic than separation from parents.” – Sharon Connor, Siblings in Out-of-Home Care
The Importance Of Keeping Siblings Together
Research shows that positive relationships between siblings brings less loneliness, higher self-worth, and fewer behavioral problems for children in foster care. When our youth are allowed to be with their brothers and sisters, it brings a sense of safety and well-being. Siblings in foster care not only care for one another, but they provide mutual support and opportunities for each other to heal while maintaining their feelings of belonging.
The SOS Children’s Villages Illinois Difference
At SOS Illinois, we focus on providing a family unit for all of our children in foster care by keeping siblings together.
We bring an innovative approach to traditional foster care. Our model of care gives children the opportunity to live in a nurturing, stable, single-family home with their brothers and sisters in the care of a full-time, professionally trained Foster Parent in one of our Villages. Children benefit from the stability of remaining with their siblings as well as the support of neighboring SOS Illinois Foster Parents and the entire community.
The reality is that many of the children who come to SOS Illinois have faced unimaginable hardships in their young lives, including separation from siblings. What we strive to provide is an important sense of family, safety, and every opportunity for healing and growth.
Some might consider their circumstances insurmountable, but we have the privilege to encourage and witness the children’s strength and optimism. Nurtured by Foster Parents and the resources and support staff in the Villages, the boys and girls in our care accomplish great feats of courage and ambition on a daily basis. Instead of being defined by their past, they look toward their futures and the many possibilities. This is why we consider each child to be a young superhero in his or her own way. We, at SOS Illinois, are #RaisingSuperheroes.
#RaisingSuperHeroes to be #SuperSiblings
At SOS Illinois, we have the special honor of watching siblings united, sometimes reunited, and living and growing together as a family. Our Sibling Foster Care program gives children in foster care an important opportunity to remain with their brothers and sisters in a stable and safe environment in one of our Villages. These intentional communities are built with single-family homes that allow up to six siblings in one home in the care of a full-time, professional Foster Parent, providing children therapeutic, educational, and developmental support services.
We know the important and special bonds siblings share. Supporting the growth and development of those relationships is fundamental to our mission and work. Here’s what some of the children in our care have to say about the SOS Illinois model of keeping siblings together:
“Living near my siblings means that I can sleep without having to be scared about what’s happening to them. I know that they are safe.” – Candice*, age 12
“Living with [my brother] has impacted his behavior and mine. Having that feeling, knowing I’m doing all I can for my brother, is the best feeling in this world.” – Jonathan*, age 17
“To live with or near my siblings is a good thing because it’s nice to have my sisters and brothers around me, and to be able to grow up with them is a privilege. It’s also a comfort to know that my siblings are safe and are surrounded by people who I know will care for them.” – Analise*, age 15
“Living with my siblings is the best thing that could happen because then we don’t have to separate, and I know that they are safe.” – Mirabella*, age 16
By keeping children in foster care together and united with their siblings, we’re able to provide a much more stable foundation to help nurture and grow our kids. And, we allow brothers and sisters to strengthen the bond of siblinghood, become champions for their own family, and create #SuperSiblings, a super support system for one another.
SOS Children’s Villages Illinois Village Model of Care Based on an International Tradition
SOS Illinois, founded over 30 years ago, is an individual 501(c)3 child welfare agency that serves over 500 at-risk youth and children and families of Illinois each year by providing a stable home in a supportive, community environment designed to help children in need grow into caring, productive, and self-reliant adults.
SOS Children’s Villages Illinois is part of a 72-year international tradition. This Village Model of Care is utilized in over 550 SOS Children’s Villages in over 130 countries.
Founded by Hermann Gmeiner in 1945, his vision continues today as each Village emphasizes uniting siblings in foster care who then receive care and support from a full-time, professionally trained Foster Parent, grow up in one of our private, single-family homes, and are supported by the Village, designed as an intentional community of care. At SOS Illinois, we also include our family strengthening services as a cornerstone to the important work we do with regards to reunifying families.
Supporting our #SuperSiblings this April and May
You can support our Villages of #SuperSiblings by lending your voice this April and May to our #Voices4FosterCare campaign, and learn more about using your social influence to help children and families in need. Become a social influencer for children in foster care.