Uniting Vic.Tas will trial a new service to ensure out-of-home care siblings remain together for as long as possible.
On average, 25 percent of children who enter into foster care in Victoria are separated from their siblings.
The Siblings Support and Placement Service, the first program of its kind in Australia, will help keep siblings together. It will also support siblings who cannot be placed together to maintain contact.
Uniting Vic.Tas CEO Paul Linossier said he hopes the pilot program helps create a stable environment for children.
“Too many children enter care separated from their siblings and miss out on the important interactions that build relationship and a sense of identity, family and belonging,” he said.
“Siblings have a unique bond that can’t be taken for granted, it has to be nurtured.
“This program will allow siblings to spend more time together to strengthen their relationship and support carers to nurture healthy, safe and happy children”.
The $1.5 million funding from the Victorian state government allows Uniting Vic.Tas to trial the program across its Victorian services. Uniting will provide training and support to carers, birth families and other professionals.
Maree Armitt has been a foster carer with Uniting (and previously Wesley Mission Victoria) for more than a decade. She has four foster children living with her, including a set of siblings.
“There’s nothing worse than being ripped from your own family and to be thrown apart, one this way and one that way. Put siblings together and they thrive a lot better,” she said.
“They’ve got their own self-worth, which is what they need to have.”
One of the girls in Ms Armitt’s care is currently separated from her two brothers. Ms Armitt hopes they will be reunited.
“It’s hard for her because she sees the two sisters that I care for together all the time,” she said.
“It would be wonderful to have all three together, to support each other with what they’re going through.”