It’s undeniable that the sibling relationship is a special and often formative relationship within families. Whether that bond is close or complicated, the shared history, points of reference, and stories of growing up make the sibling bond precious. There can be an ache in children and youth who are separated from their siblings through the foster care system. The legal system doesn’t always prioritize this relationship, and it can be difficult for siblings who are separated to stay connected. In 2019, Governor Polis signed the “Sibling Bill of Rights” (HB 19-1288) into law after it was passed through the General Assembly with unanimous approval. This was a huge step toward prioritizing sibling relationships within the foster care system! The bill recognizes the importance of maintaining the sibling bond, and the need for support structures to maintain these relationships as foster children and youth navigate care. At CASA of Larimer County, we’re proud our advocates take the sibling bond seriously and actively help siblings stay connected.
Take CASA volunteer Dawn’s case as an example: after sister Gabby* was separated from her siblings, Zeke and Mara, Dawn consistently showed up as a strong advocate for their eventual placement together.
The three children were removed in early spring from their home after a case had been opened for neglect and parental substance abuse. Gabby, Zeke, and Mara were initially placed together, but Gabby, the middle sister, was moved into a different home in another town later that year. The children had desperately wanted to remain together, and Gabby really struggled with the change. She would hold a photo album of her siblings in her arms daily while talking about how much she missed them. DHS saw a way forward for Zeke and Mara to secure a permanent placement and faced the hard decision of keeping the case open in hopes the three siblings could be placed together, or to close it and separate them permanently.
CASA Volunteer Dawn facilitated sibling visits when no one else was able to. With Gabby placed in a different town, it was Dawn who would pick up Gabby and drive her to her brother rand sister so they could spend time together. Just like a CASA is meant to do, Dawn was receptive to the children’s wishes, and regularly shared that what they most wanted was to be together. When COVID restrictions began to be put in place, it was Dawn who arranged Zoom calls between the two sets of foster parents so Gabby, Mara, and Zeke could spend time together virtually. Twice monthly, Dawn visited with the children, taking precautions to stay safe but seeing them in-person when she could.
Thankfully, the children were finally able to be placed and will be adopted into the same family. Dawn reports they are “very happy, and eager for adoption.” It’s thanks in part to Dawn’s commitment to their wishes that’s led to this happy ending.
*Names and identifying information have been changed to protect identities
Are you interested in becoming a CASA volunteer? Contact Julie Phillips at email@example.com for more information about upcoming trainings.