Together or Apart: Practical and Theoretical Considerations for Determining When to Keep Foster Siblings Together or to Separate Them

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David Lee Caudill Victor W. Harris
Published May 29, 2018


Siblings share a compelling bond that can be either positive or detrimental to their individual development. This article discusses siblings in the unnatural context of foster care, using attachment theory to explain when siblings should be kept together, and then examines underlying concerns that make separation the healthiest option. While it is a general belief among social workers and other foster care professionals that siblings should always remain together, this is not always possible or proper. It can, and at times should, be determined that the sibling bond is broken and a time of separation – whether temporary or permanent – is in the best interest of the siblings as individuals. While there are many future outcomes that could ensue from such decisions, this article will focus only on the foster placements and the immediate safety and well-being of the children. It will also focus primarily on the development stages of young children during the ages when the ability to bond can be securely solidified or potentially lost forever based on attachment theory. The intention is to encourage foster care professionals to reform current practices and consider each case individually.

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Author Biographies

David Lee Caudill, University of Florida, US

University of Florida, US

Victor W. Harris, University of Florida, US

University of Florida, US