Placement Shift, Sibling Relationship Quality, and Child Outcomes in Foster Care: A Controlled Study

L. Oriana Linares, MiMin Li, Patrick E. Shrout, Gene H. Brody, Gregory S. Pettit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sibling unity during family transitions is considered a protective factor for child behavior problems, but there is little empirical support for the widespread child protection policy of placing siblings together in foster care. In a prospective study of 156 maltreated children, siblings were classified in 1 of 3 placement groups: continuously together (n = 110), continuously apart (n = 22), and disrupted placement (siblings placed together were separated; n = 24). Changes in child adjustment as a function of sibling relationship and placement group were examined. Sibling positivity predicted lower child problems at follow-up (about 14 months later), while sibling negativity predicted higher child problems. Placement group did not affect child behavior problems at follow-up; however, compared to siblings in continuous placement (either together or apart), siblings in disrupted placement with high initial behavior problems were rated as having fewer problems at follow-up, while siblings in disrupted placement with low initial behavior problems were rated as having more problems at follow-up. These findings highlight the importance of considering relationships between siblings and the risk that one poses to another before early placement decisions are made.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)736-743
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Volume21
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2007

Keywords

  • child behavior problems
  • foster siblings
  • sibling unity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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