When was the last time you connected with your siblings?
The 10th of April marks international Sibling Day, a day to reflect on the important role that our siblings play in our lives.
When did you last connect with your siblings? At this time of imposed isolation and limited face to face connection across Tasmania and across the world, especially in a big city like New York, I was reminded of Claudia Evart.
The 10th of April marks international Sibling Day, a day celebrated across most of the USA and now much of the world, to recognise and reflect on the special and important role that our brothers and sisters play in our lives.
Sibling Day is the brain child of New Yorker, Claudia Evart, which she started after both of her siblings passed away early in life. She chose 10 April as it was the birthday of her older sister Lisette. Even though Lisette passed away at a young age it is clear that she had a huge impact on Claudia’s life and in fact still does so today. Claudia’s passion for her siblings has spurred her on to establish the not for profit Sibling Day Foundation to support sibling connectedness and acknowledge the importance of these relationships throughout our lives. Claudia has gained acknowledgment and commitment to Sibling Day from 49 State Governors and three former presidents of the USA.
After all, your siblings really are for life. They are the people with whom we generally have the longest and most enduring relationships, they are the only people who know what it was like to grow up in your family and to have been raised the way you were. They are the only people you can fact check your memories of your parents and who understand your family culture and traditions, both positive and perhaps not so positive. Like the time my mum ate a chocolate out of a woman’s pick and mix basket in a department store because she thought she was holding it out as a free sample (she wasn’t) and us kids were falling about laughing! Or the time my friend’s mum bought her new shoes it was only after months of complaining how uncomfortable they were that she handed them down to her sister who also refused to wear them because they hurt her right foot. Mum had bought two left shoes!
Our siblings are also the people with whom we develop and practice our collaboration and our conflict resolution skills! They teach us how to simply be together, skills that set us up for life.
As we all create our safe havens and nest at home this Easter, spare a thought for the Tasmanian families who find it challenging to be together at home 24/7 because they have not fully learned these skills. The current stresses in our community from COVID-19 place additional pressures on families who are struggling to cope and the need for foster carers to support those children and families is ever present.
In some countries across the world it is now a legislative requirement to focus on keeping siblings together when they come into foster care, however in many cases pressures due to the availability or number of carers with the capacity to care for sibling groups has resulted in an inability of the system to preserve and maintain these longest lasting relationships of our lifetime.
To help address this challenge in 2015 the State Government of Tasmania had the foresight to establish a dedicated foster care program for siblings. This unique program focuses on preserving these special sibling relationships and enabling children to remain connected together in foster care for however long they need it.
Our amazing foster carers commit to looking after three or more related children when they come into care and do a fabulous job in supporting children to develop and grow as a sibling group, while balancing their individual needs. We don’t always know for how long these children and their families will need our support. It may be for a few days or weeks or more. For however long it is needed , there is huge value in keeping sibling groups intact for the children themselves their families and our society and indeed for our carers who often report it is easier to look after three children with pre-existing relationships than it is to look after one! We appreciate the incredible work our carers do for our children, families and communities every single day.
So if you are feeling that you and your home could accommodate and care for some children for the short, medium or long term, please reach out to us or one of the other foster care agencies across Tasmania, because our communities, families and our children need you more than ever in this time of crisis.
And, spare a thought for your own brothers and sisters and reach out and connect with them in a way that keeps everyone safe and supported this year.
Happy Sibling Day!
Caroline Brown – Group Director Operations, Key Assets Australia