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Outcomes brighter when siblings can remain together in care

For Immediate ReleaseWednesday, October 6, 2021
DSS Media Contact: Steve Long, steve.long@state.sd.us, 605.773.5465

Outcomes brighter when siblings can remain together in care

PIERRE – Siblings have unique bonds which is why keeping brothers and sisters together in foster care and adoption is so important to achieving successful outcomes. That is why South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS) is seeking more South Dakotans to become foster families in order to provide more opportunities for siblings in the system to stay together.

“Siblings help provide support, consistency, and comfort to each other during difficult times,” said DSS Cabinet Secretary Laurie Gill. “The bonds between siblings in foster care are even more important so keeping them together is key whenever possible.” 

This requires having enough foster families willing and able to lovingly care for sibling groups and there are not always enough families available to do that. South Dakota needs more foster parents in all parts of the state. DSS launched the Stronger Families Together initiative in May with a goal of recruiting more foster parents.  As of August 31, 93 new foster families have been licensed since the May 11 launch.

When brothers and sisters have to be separated DSS works to ensure the children maintain and preserve their sibling connection. According to the Child Welfare League of America, when brothers and sisters are placed together, they are less likely to have problematic behavior, have a lower risk of failed placements, and may improve the chance of reunification with their family.

Michele Davies, a licensed South Dakota foster parent, describes her experience when she was caring for three young brothers. Their older brother was in a different home which upset one of the little boys. When Davies agreed to also care for the older brother bringing all four siblings together, the little boy told Davies, “Mama, thank you so much for bringing my brother home.”

“Being away from home when it’s necessary for their safety is tough enough,’” Gill said. “All children deserve a safe, loving home, including in foster care or adoption. Keeping siblings together provides stability, a sense of home, and a brighter outcome.”

The goal of foster care is always safe reunification. Foster families care for children when it’s unsafe for them to be at home. During that time, DSS works with families to help resolve whatever issues the family is facing. When reunification is not possible, children need loving adoptive homes.

To find out more about Stronger Families Together, becoming a foster parent or helping support foster parents in your community, visit https://fosterone.sd.gov/ and fill out the online “Commit to know more” card.