Did you know that the sibling bond is one of the strongest and most long lasting connections in an individual’s lifetime? Fostering Families and our community of foster parents do and as such are committed to maintaining siblings who are placed into foster care. For this reason, Austin and his older sister were originally placed together in one of our foster homes. Unfortunately, due to his exceptional needs that put his older sibling at risk, eight year old Austin was moved and placed in the Specialized Therapeutic foster home of Lisa and Alvaro Gonzalez. Since being placed into the Gonzalez home, Austin and his foster family have received in-home therapy twice weekly while maintaining contact and visitation with his older sister. In addition to the intensive counseling provided, Specialist Therapeutic Fostering Families Therapist, Becky Smith, assisted with obtaining Behavior Analyst services and coordinated respite care for the family so that they could take a much needed vacation. Mr. and Mrs. Gonzalez have received ongoing training from Children's Home Network to strengthen their parenting skills and further their understanding of Austin's needs. Throughout Austin’s placement in their home, the family maintained contact and visitation with Austin‘s sister, and have served as a mentor for the boy’s mother, who is actively working her case plan towards the goal of reunification.
Over time, the Gonzalez family recognized that in order for the siblings to successfully transition home, they needed to live together again, and receive family services jointly in the foster home, as well as with their mother. Fostering Families advocated for this to occur with the Gonzalez family and Becky and Lisa attended court and staffings to ensure the case was progressing towards unification of the siblings. Together with the care team, Lisa developed a comprehensive safety plan for her home and for the children to mitigate potential risks. As a result, the sister and brother - who had been living separately for over a year - were unified and are now living together with the Gonzalez family.
Fostering Families continues to provide intensive services for the family and Becky incorporates Austin's older sister into counseling, helping them learn to function as a family and the Gonzalez's to manage the many emotions and needs presented by the siblings.
Austin and his sister are visiting every weekend with their mother as she continues to work towards reunification. With Lisa's parenting support and mentoring, Austin's mother is learning how to appropriately manage their needs. Austin could not be happier to be back together with his big sister— he hugs her often, and both share smiles, laughter and a bond unique to siblings.