South Carolina Pushes New Bill to Keep Siblings Together in Foster Care

South Carolina Pushes New Bill to Keep Siblings Together in Foster Care

When a child is taken out of the home, there can be many consequences as a result of the removal. Removal of a child is serious as it confronts a parent’s fundamental rights to raise his or her children in the manner that he or she sees fit. Taking a child out of the home is never done lightly and usually is the consequence of significant harm or the threat of harm to the child as a result of being within the family home.

The Issue When Families are Broken Up

Sometimes, when family services are determining what is actually happening within the house and the type of harm that may or may not be affecting the children within the home, family services places the child in a foster care home so that the child is being taken care of. However, at times, the foster care system can be tight and overrun, and siblings are broken up as a result.

The Sibling Grouping Plan: South Carolina

In South Carolina, members of the state House of Representatives are pushing through legislation that would prioritize and preference the maintaining of the family unit, by ensuring that siblings are part of a placement plan and stay together no matter where they go within the system. The bill requires that the child-placing agency or department make every effort to keep the siblings together because this is in the best interest of the children. If children cannot be, for logistical reasons, kept together, they are then provided visitation or contact rights. This visitation and contact right extends not only between siblings but siblings and other relatives so that the children are not isolated. The presumption that it is in the best interest of the children that they remain together is rebuttable.

The Trauma Of Separating Siblings

One statistic suggests that two-thirds of children in the foster care system have a sibling that is also in foster care; the majority of these kids are not living in the same household nor do they have access to each other. This can be an additional trauma because the children are not only removed from their parents but as an extra “punishment” are forced apart from the only other family relations who they may have and who can understand the trauma involved.

Difficulties with Sibling Groupings in Foster Care

There are certain difficulties, however, to ensuring that all children are placed together:

  • First, there is a burden on the system. The foster care system is not known for its overwhelming ability to react to every need of the children in foster care. Though the government does what it can to ensure children go to supportive homes, there is no guarantee that they will be treated the right way because the system is overly taxed.
  • Second, there is an issue as to what constitutes a sibling relationship.

Families come in all different shapes and sizes, and the traditional family model is falling out of style. Children may consider themselves siblings but may be cousins, for example. The bill currently in front of the House in South Carolina defines “siblings” as persons that share a biological or adoptive birth parent. This would protect siblings who are blood-related, either full or half-siblings, or who have a common adoptive parent if not related. This would not extend to cousins being brought up in the same household.

Experienced Family Law Attorneys in Mount Pleasant, Charleston Area

Termination of parental rights is highly complicated, as is placing children permanently into the foster/adoption system. If you are at risk of losing your children, It is important to speak with the experienced family law attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC today for an initial and confidential consultation.