Because foster parents Matt and Kayla Nichols went above and beyond to keep siblings together, they have been named, during the season of the heart, TFI Family Connections’ February foster parents of the month.
The Nichols accepted two siblings into their home in early December. Soon after, they found out the children had two more siblings in out-of-home care and immediately began looking into options to bring all four children together.
Taking on the additional siblings would mean a total of seven children in their home, but that didn’t slow them down. The couple went out of their way to ensure they could accommodate everyone by purchasing a new vehicle and additional bedroom sets.
According to the National Center for Youth Law: Sibling relationships help children achieve developmental milestones as well as provide emotional support, companionship, and comfort in times of change. When children are separated from their siblings, the research indicates that a number of children feel “they have lost a part of themselves,” which compounds the anxiety and pain they feel over separation from their parents and transition to a new home. Siblings placed together use their relationships to understand who they are. Not only do siblings help children to adapt to such new and frightening situations, but also they remain important figures throughout their lives.
For many years, the sibling relationship was largely ignored in social science research and child welfare laws. In recent decades, however, both research scientists and policymakers have come to acknowledge the importance of the sibling bond, leading to a flurry of research, policy making, litigation, and development of innovative programs.
While there is little national data on siblings in foster care, estimates indicate that well over half of children in foster care nationwide have one or more siblings also in care. Some sources state that as many as 75 percent of these foster children are placed apart from one or more of their siblings.Click here to read more from the National Center for Youth Law in a 2005 posting titled: Keeping Siblings Together: Past, Present, and Future.
The Nichols welcomed the other two siblings into their home on Dec. 20, just in time for the family to spend Christmas together. The children are well cared for, loved and have plenty of space to grow and play together.
TFI Family Connections, LLC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to the strength of family that provides experience, compassion and quality child welfare and community-based services to children and families in Oklahoma. To learn more, you are invited to visit tfifamilyconnections.org or call 866.543.9810.