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Sibling networks of children adopted from out-of-home care in New South Wales, Australia.

Luu B, Wright A and Cashmore J
Children and Youth Services Review v. 119 Dec 2020: Article 105588
This article explores the nature of sibling relationships for children adopted from out of home care. It analyses the case files for the 117 children adopted in New South Wales in 2017, regarding number of siblings, characteristics, living situations, and contact arrangements. In 90% of the adoption applications, the children had at least one sibling who lived elsewhere and who was not part of the application. Frequency of face-to-face contact between the siblings varied, depending on degree of relatedness, living arrangements, caregiver type, and the contact arrangements that were in place prior to an adoption order. The findings highlight the need for services and carers to help support this relationship after adoption and help maintain contact and connections.

Pets are associated with fewer peer problems and emotional symptoms, and better prosocial behavior : findings from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children.

Christian H, Mitrou F, Cunneen R and Zubrick S
Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health v. 220 May 2020: 200-206
This article investigates whether there is an association between pet ownership and children's social-emotional development over time. Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australia Children (LSAC), it compared children's emotional symptoms, problems with peers, prosocial behaviour at age 5 and at age 7, as well as whether the child owned a pet. The study found that owning a pet was associated with with fewer social-emotional problems, with children with a pet dog in particular having reduced odds of having any of these difficulties. Pet ownership was also associated with positive social functioning, especially in children without siblings. By the age of 7, 75% of these children lived with a pet, with ownership rates highest in families with only one child.

Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study - outcomes of children and young people in out-of-home care in NSW: Caseworker Survey statistical report.

Hopkins J, Paxman M, Zhou A, Watson J, Burke S and Butler M
Ashfield, NSW : NSW Dept. of Family and Community Services, 2019.
This report provides a summary of data collected in the caseworker survey conducted as part of the Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS) In New South Wales. POCLS is the first large scale prospective longitudinal study on out-of-home care (OOHC) in Australia and will follow 4,126 children aged 0-17 years old entering OOHC in the state. To date, four Waves of data collection have been undertaken at 18-24 month intervals. The caseworker survey was completed between October 2014 and June 2016 as a part of Wave 3, and included caseworkers from both government and non-government organisations. Data was provided regarding 1,342 children. Topics include: child characteristics, case characteristics, placement, siblings, case plan goal, contact, parents' interest in restoration, knowledge of the parents and the carers, child's understanding of being in care and participation in case planning, placement breakdown, consultation about placement, concerns about child, school enrolment, changing schools, difficulties at school, education planning, child contact with birth parents and siblings, satisfaction with contact arrangements, supports and services received by birth parents towards restoration, and leaving care planning. The report concludes by noting what is working well and practices that need addressing.

Out-of-home care in Australia: children and young people's views after 5 years of national standards

McDowall J
Parramatta, NSW : CREATE Foundation, 2018.
This report investigates children and young people's views on whether the introduction of the National Standards for Out-of-Home Care has led to improvements in care in Australia. The Standards were introduced in 2011 to foster a similar base level of support across the states and territories. The CREATE Foundation conducted an initial national survey of children and young people in 2012, followed by a government survey in 2015. This report presents findings from a new 2018 survey, and as such reviews the impact of the standards after 5 years of operation. 1,275 children and young people aged 10-17 years old were asked about their experiences of life in care, including placement stability, satisfaction with placement, interactions with care workers, sources of support, case planning, knowledge of family and case history, participation in decision making, connection to culture, leisure activities and the internet, contact with family and friends, health, service usage, education and educational planning and support, bullying, feedback and complaints, and transition to independence. Comparisons are included for type of care placement and jurisdiction. This report provides insights into the strengths and limitations of the out of home care system, as well as what children and young people in care value and need. The survey found that 81% of respondents felt quite happy in their current placement, and that 93% felt safe and secure. Particular issues identified include barriers to involvement in decision making, the lack of support available in residential placements, and the need for better preparation for the transition to independence.

Who do adolescents spend their time with?

Baxter J
Growing Up in Australia, the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children - annual statistical report 2017. Melbourne : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2018: 25-34
As children leave childhood and enter adolescence, the amount of time they spend with family members declines and and relationships with peers become more central to their lives. Using self-report time use diaries from 'Growing Up in Australia, the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children' (LSAC), this chapter looks at changes in how children spend their time at ages 10-11, 12-13, and 14-15 years of age. It examines time spent with parent, with siblings, with other adults, at school, with other children, and alone, and when during the day this time is spent. The data show that the amount of time young people spend with their parents declines substantially between the ages of 10-11 and 14-15: the time spent with siblings also declines. Actually, the time spent with other peers does not increase significantly over this period: instead, there is a significant increase in the amount of time young people spend alone. The chapter also considers some of the family factors associated with time spent and who it is spent with, including child and parent gender, parents' working hours, one parent families, and number of siblings. Further research could consider connecting with others via social media use.

Sibling co-placement and contact in out-of-home care and open adoption

Norderyd J
Sydney, N.S.W. : Institute of Open Adoption Studies, University of Sydney, 2018.
This paper outlines the research on sibling co-placement and contact in permanent out of home care and makes recommendations for policy and further research. It briefly summarises the Australian and international research and describes a study at Barnardos Australia on the co-placement of newborns with older siblings already in care. Although there is only limited research available, findings indicate that co-placement can be a protective factor for child outcomes and placement stability, but such placements can not always be achieved, due largely to availability rather than child-related factors.

The quality of family relationships for siblings of children with mental health problems : a 20-year systematic review.

Ma N, Roberts R, Winefield H and Furber G
Journal of Family Studies v. 23 no. 3 Nov 2017: 309-332
This article reviews the state of the evidence on the impact of living with a child with mental health problems on siblings' family relationships. 22 studies from 1990 to 2011 were identified. The findings indicate that such siblings experience less positive and more negative sibling and parent-sibling relationships than their peers. Exceptions, data limitations, and future directions are discussed.

Sibling health, schooling and longer-term developmental outcomes

Ryan C and Zhu A
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2016.
"We explore the extent to which starting primary school earlier by up to one year can help shield children from the detrimental, long-term developmental consequences of having an ill or disabled sibling. Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, we employ a Regression Discontinuity Design based on birthday eligibility cut-offs. We find that Australian children who have a sibling in poor health persistently lag behind other children in their cognitive development - but only for the children who start school later. In contrast, for the children who commence school earlier, we do not find any cognitive developmental gaps. The results are strongest when the ill-health in the sibling is of a temporary rather than longer-term nature. We hypothesise that an early school start achieves this by lessening the importance of resource-access inequalities within the family home. However, we find mixed impacts on the gaps in non-cognitive development."--Author abstract.

Sibling health, schooling and longer-term developmental outcomes

Ryan C and Zhu A
Indooroopilly, Qld : Life Course Centre, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, 2016.
Varying when a child enters primary school can be used to address disadvantage. This paper investigates whether starting school early is of benefit to children who have a sibling in poor health, since these children are likely to face large resource and learning constraints in the family home. Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, it compares cognitive development and school starting age among children known to have a sibling with poor health. The impact of temporary versus chronic ill health is also considered.

The modern Australian family

Baxter J
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2016.
The Facts Sheet provides a range of statistical information on families in Australia today. It explores the different phases of family - from the families we live in as children to the families we form as we grow older - as well as some of the stressors we face and who we turn to for support. Data is taken from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), and the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. Topics include: children's living arrangements, contact with separated parents, changes in living arrangements across young adulthood, contact with parents and siblings in adulthood, attitudes to marriage and cohabitation, relationship status across different age groups, sources of support, living arrangements of refugees and migrants, and reported stressors. This Facts Sheet has been prepared to celebrate the 2016 National Families Week, with this year's theme being 'Stronger Families, Stronger Communities'.

Sibling health, schooling and longer-term developmental outcomes

Ryan C and Zhu A
Parkville, Vic. : Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne, 2015.
Researchers has found that children who have a sibling in poor health tend to receive less parental attention, are read to less often, and are more likely to interact with stressed parents - in other words, they may experience some form of constraint on resource-access within the home environment. This paper investigates whether starting primary school earlier by up to one year can help shield children from any detrimental developmental consequences, the extent of this benefit, and differences for children with siblings with either a short term 'health shock' or longer term ill health. Data is taken from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) and the National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN).

Giving sorrow words : siblings in out-of-home care.

McCluskey T
14th Australasian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect : ACCAN 2015 : cultural responsiveness in a multi-agency world : 29 March - 1 April 2015, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. Canberra, A.C.T. : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2015: 24p
This presentation reviews what is known about siblings separated in out-of-home care in Australia. It highlights the lack of local data but stresses the importance of siblings as life-long attachment figures and the need to incorporate them in policy and case management. This document contains the slides from the session, which feature some text.

Sibling roles in the lives of older group home residents with intellectual disability : working with staff to safeguard wellbeing.

Bigby C, Webber R and Bowers B
Australian Social Work v. 68 no. 4 2015: 453-468
When parents die, siblings of older people with intellectual disability are likely to take responsibility for oversight of their wellbeing and negotiation with formal support services. This study explored the roles siblings played in the lives of older people with intellectual disability who live in group homes, and the relationships between residents' siblings and group home staff. The siblings of 13 group home residents and the 17 supervisory staff associated with these services were interviewed, initially face-to-face and then intermittently by phone over a period of three years. Data were analysed using an inductive analytical approach. Siblings valued the relationship with their brother or sister with intellectual disability and played a significant role in safeguarding their wellbeing. Sibling-staff relationships fluctuated over time, sometimes becoming tense and difficult. Few protocols guided these relationships. A principle-based framework could facilitate negotiation between staff and siblings about expectations of communication and decision making. (Journal article)

Sibling placement and contact in out-of-home care

McDowall J
Sydney, NSW : Policy and Advocacy Unit, CREATE Foundation, 2015.
This study provides insights into the experiences of siblings in out-of-home care in Australia. Most jurisdictions advocate that siblings should be placed together whenever possible, and if they need to be separated, for their contact to be facilitated. However, there is little evidence regarding how well these principles are being applied. This study comprises two parts. Part 1 investigates the views of children and young people regarding a range of factors likely to influence their experience of sibling placement and contact, including sex, age, culture, disability, and type of care. Part 2 examines case files on these factors, and gathers the views of caseworkers on the challenges and successes in coordinating sibling placements.

Challenges in the family : problematic substance use and sibling relationships.

Incerti L, Henderson-Wilson C and Dunn M
Family Matters no. 96 2015: 29-38
This article explores the lived experience of having a sibling with a problematic substance use issue, and how this affects the adult sibling relationship. It discusses findings from interviews with 13 women, highlighting themes of trust and secrecy, protectiveness, despair and frustration, and being overlooked and 'not validated'. The findings have implications for family therapy and support services.

Millennium Cohort Study: initial findings from the age 11 survey

Platt L
London : Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Institution of Education, 2014.
The Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) is a multi-disciplinary research project following the lives of around 19,000 children born in the UK in 2000-01. This report presents initial findings from the fifth survey wave, with the children now 11 years old. Topics include: friends, independent journeys and use of transport, mobile phones and screen time, home rules and discipline, risky behaviours, bullying, family structure over time, siblings and non-resident parents, family change and children's behaviour problems, breakfast and after-school clubs, homework, school choice, language and vocabulary development, physical development and wellbeing, weight, puberty, and material deprivation and wellbeing. Comparisons are included with findings from earlier waves, when the children are aged 9 months and onwards. Age 11 is a pivotal moment in children's lives, and includes the end of primary school, the cusp of adolescence, and moves towards greater independence.

Beyond the adoption order: challenges, interventions and adoption disruptions

Selwyn J, Wijedasa D and Meakings S
London : Dept. for Education, 2014.
This report investigates how often and why adoptions are disrupted - or break down - after an adoption order has been made in England. Drawing on data from local authorities and interviews with adoptive parents, children, and social workers, it aims: to establish the rate of adoption disruption post-order and how long after the making of the order disruption had occurred; to investigate the associated factors; and to explore the experiences of those involved. The report concludes with recommendations on how this disruption might be prevented.

Growing up with an adopted sibling : a retrospective study of the resident children's experiences.

Nel L
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 8 no. 2 2014: 74p
The changing nature of family structures means that it is becoming common for families to have a combination of biological and non-biological children living together. This thesis investigates the experiences of the resident 'child' growing up with an adopted sibling. A descriptive qualitative analysis was used to analyse the data from four semi-structured interviews. Eight topical areas are investigated: the nature of the sibling relationship, the changes when adoptee arrived, feeling blessed or resentful, discussion around upcoming adoption, having a 'chosen' sibling, reasons for adoption, ordinal position and parental treatment. Implications for families, limitations and future research possibilities are discussed. The findings from this study will add to the very limited literature on growing up with an adopted sibling.

Sibling configurations, educational aspiration and attainment

Bu F
Colchester, UK : Institute for Social and Economic Research, 2014.
"Previous studies have found that firstborn children enjoy a distinct advantage over their later- born counterparts in terms of educational attainment. This paper advances the state of knowledge in this area in two ways. First, it analyses the role of young people's aspirations, estimating the effects of sibling configurations on adolescents' educational aspirations, and the importance of these aspirations on later attainment. Second, it employs multilevel modelling techniques, using household-based data which include information on multiple children living in the same families. The paper finds that firstborn children have higher aspirations, and that these aspirations play a significant role in determining later levels of attainment. We also demonstrate a significant positive effect of age spacing on educational attainment."--Author abstract, P. 1.

Siblings : brothers and sisters of children with special needs

Strohm K
Kent Town, S. Aust. : Wakefield Press, 2014.
This book provides insight into what it's like to grow up as the brother or sister of someone with a disability. It features guidance for parents and practitioners in supporting children and young people, but can also be read by adult siblings to help them achieve greater self-awareness. The book draws on the author's own experiences as well as findings from forums with siblings in Australia.

Caring for a child with an intellectual disability and challenging behaviours

Mollenhauer J, King S, Bodiam T and Bellamy J
Parramatta, NSW : ANGLICARE Sydney, 2013.
This research report documents the experience and impact of caring for a child with an intellectual disability and challenging behaviours, in order to better inform government policy. It draws on interviews with 15 families who had previously attended Anglicare Sydney's Kingsdene Special School and Residential Services. The closure of the Kingsdene School highlighted the issues and challenges faced by these families, as well as their services needs. This research study looked at how families negotiate the needs of the child with a disability and the needs of the family unit, how they cope with and manage challenging and sometime violent behaviours, and the costs and consequences of juggling these complex needs. Respite care and relinquishment into state care are also discussed.

Children and their families: best interests case practice model : specialist practice resource

Robinson E, Miller R, Price-Robertson R and Carrington A
Melbourne : Dept of Human Services, c2012.
This resource, for child protection and family services in Victoria, provides guidance for working with children aged 3-10 years old and their families. Part 1 is an introduction to the issues, and explains child development, attachment, and the impact of trauma and loss on development. Part 2 is a practice tool on strategies for working with children. It discusses engaging children and their families, assessment, forensic interviewing, communicating with children who have intellectual disabilities, forensic medical examinations, risk assessment, and intervention. The resource also includes flyers and sheets from the child-centred Kid Central set of practice tools.

Stronger siblings : support for brothers and sisters of children with disability.

Turner S
Adelaide, S. Aust. : Siblings Australia Inc., 2012.
Aimed at parents, this video explains why the siblings of disabled children also need support, and how parents can help. Interviews with parents and young people highlight the joys, challenges, and impact of having a sibling with a disability, the warning signs of problems, and sources of family and external support. Also on the disc are facilitator notes for group discussions, available to view or download.

Conflict in family relationships.

Noller P
Noller, Patricia, ed. Karantzas, Gery C., ed. The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of couples and family relationships. Chichester, UK : Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. 9781444334500: 129-143
This chapter explores conflict within families. Sections include: misunderstandings and conflict in marriage, conflict styles, learning conflict patterns in the family, conflict strategies and relationship satisfaction, conflict in separated and divorcing families, family conflict and adolescent psychological adjustment, and differential parenting and conflict between siblings.

Being the older sibling : self-perceptions of children with disabilities.

Serdity C and Burgman I
Children and Society v. 26 no. 1 Jan 2012: 37-50
This article experiences the experience of being both disabled and the eldest sibling in the family. Based on interviews with 10 children, it explores themes of family relations, sense of self, inclusion, and role.

Children in care and contact with their siblings: literature review

South Australia. Office of the Guardian for Children and Young People
Adelaide, SA : Office of the Guardian for Children and Young People, 2011.
The South Australian Guardian for Children and Young People has launched an inquiry into children in care and their siblings, concerned at both the possible distress and disadvantage of forced separation but also at the lack of evidence on co-placement. This literature review was commissioned to support the inquiry, and investigates issues of definition and who children consider to be siblings, decision making, co-placement, likelihood of separation, placement stability, participation, and contact. The findings highlight the many benefits of placing siblings together in care and support the position that siblings should not be separated unless it is in the child's best interests.

Sibling relationships in children of depressed parents

Gladstone T
North Adelaide, SA : COPMI, 2011.
Aimed at practitioners, this paper summarises the research literature on sibling relationships in children of depressed parents. It outlines the impact on - and buffering effects of - sibling relationships and the gaps in the research.

Kinship care and wellbeing : children speak out.

Kiraly M
Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal no. 29 Spring 2011: 18-24
This article presents the views of children and young people on the experience of kinship care. Interviews were conducted with 21 young people in Victoria, discussing such issues as normality, relationship with parents, forced contact arrangements, the importance of brothers and sisters, and support from the wider family. The article concludes with thoughts on how the system can be improved and better supported.

'She's my sister and she will always mean something to me-': report on the inquiry into what children say about contact with their siblings and the impact sibling contact has on wellbeing

South Australia. Office of the Guardian for Children and Young People.
Adelaide, SA : Office of the Guardian for Children and Young People, 2011.
The South Australian Guardian for Children and Young People launched an inquiry into children in care and their siblings, concerned at both the possible distress and disadvantage of forced separation but also at the lack of evidence on co-placement. Based on case files, interviews with children and young people, and a literature review, the inquiry investigated the nature of sibling relationships, constructions of family, and the views of young people about the impacts of co-placement, separation and contact with siblings. This report presents the findings of the inquiry and the recommendations for case management and planning.

Breaking the rules: children and young people in kinship care speak about contact with their families

Kiraly M and Humphreys C
Melbourne : Child Safety Commissioner, 2011.
This report presents the views of children and young people in kinship care arrangements in Victoria. It is the first report from the research project, 'Family Links: Kinship Care and Family Contact', and aims to investigate the effectiveness of current family contact policies and how services can respond better to young people's needs. This report presents the views of children, adolescents, and young adults on views on normal family life, the importance of family, conflicted views on family contact, forced contact, prevention of desired contact, parents, siblings, extended family, and safety.
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