Office of Children and Family Services

Sibling Placement in Foster Care

New York State’s foster care programs are administered by 58 local social services districts (57 counties and New York City) that are overseen by the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). According to State law and regulations, siblings placed in foster care should be kept together unless it is impossible or inadvisable to do so. If siblings are separated, they should be able to see one another regularly. In addition, the reason for the separation and their subsequent face-to-face contacts with one another must be appropriately documented.

We visited five local districts outside New York City to determine whether these requirements were being met. We found the requirements were not always being met, as the reason for separate placements was not always documented, and when the reason was documented, it was not always appropriate (e.g., the inability to find foster parents willing to accept all siblings is not a valid reason for separation). We also found the local districts did not always document the participation of professionals (such as psychologists or psychiatrists) in separation decisions, as required by regulations. In addition, in some instances, there was no documentation indicating that the separated siblings had seen one another as often as required. We recommended that sibling placements be more closely overseen by OCFS.

For a complete copy of Report 2005-S-70 click here.
For a copy of the associated follow-up report click here.