The Importance of Sibling Relationships for Children in Foster Care

J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2023 Jun;51(2):255-262. doi: 10.29158/JAAPL.230029-23. Epub 2023 May 31.


There are approximately 500,000 children in the foster care system in the United States of America. With exposure to chronic and cumulative trauma, they constitute a population with an increased risk of developing mental health concerns and adverse outcomes in later life, including contact with the forensic system. Legislative frameworks that have been developed to facilitate improved outcomes are outlined, although these vary between states, and the focus is often on the parental relationship. Several studies have emphasized the importance of sibling relationships and that placing siblings in the same foster home is associated with higher rates of placement stability, reunification, adoption and guardianship, and fostering positive sibling relations. The multifaceted role of the clinician in promoting recovery from trauma, enhancing resiliency, and thoughtfully prescribing and advocating for familial relationships is discussed.

Keywords: child & adolescent; community forensic psychiatry; stress; trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse*
  • Child Welfare
  • Foster Home Care
  • Humans
  • Sibling Relations*
  • Siblings
  • United States