One of the goals of Chapter 48 is to preserve the unity of the family whenever appropriate. Recent news articles report an alarming decrease in the number of available foster homes, the logical consequence of which is the splitting apart of sibling groups in many cases. The likelihood of an adoption of a sibling group, when adoption follows placement in a foster home, is then reduced.
In 2005, the legislature amended sec. 48.834, Stats., to require consideration of placement with siblings before other adoptive placements are considered. While consideration is required, placement with siblings is not mandatory. The best interest of all of the children is still the standard by which placement decisions are to be made. When a child has been in foster care without his or her siblings for a lengthy period of time, reunification may not be in his best interest, particularly if attachments have occurred with other children in the foster home. Prospective adoptive parents of a foster child may object to that child's removal to the home of a sibling.
Attorney Elizabeth A. Neary