Elizabeth SteffelElizabeth’s Story

Elizabeth Steffel is a  former aged out foster youth.  She earned her B.S. in psychology from the University of WI, Green Bay and is currently working on her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Southern California. Elizabeth has done lots of work in the foster community as a foster mother, motivational speaker, within research, and publication. Elizabeth writes “My birth siblings and I were denied the chance to see each other in childhood which has led to us being cut off from one another as adults.  I can not even begin to explain the life long mourning that occurs when siblings are split up.”

Fifty percent of children placed in out-of-home care in Wisconsin are separated from at least one of their siblings. We know the impact of this separation can be significant. Many of these children had grown to rely on each other, had been there to care for each other or even protect. No longer being there to tuck a sibling in at a time when their world is being turned upside down exacerbates the trauma of being removed from the parental home. Although this video clip is a bit long (13 min.) and can be hard to watch we urge you to watch… it is a compelling portrayal:

Camp To Belong-Wisconsin (CTB-WI) connects and reunites siblings involved with the child welfare system. As a social worker you play a significant part in the lives of kids placed in out-of-home care. You can play a significant role in helping CTB-WI fulfill its mission of connecting and reuniting siblings.

How can Social Workers Maintain Sibling Connections

  • Ensure siblings are placed together whenever possible.
  • When it is not possible, ensure that siblings have frequent contact.
  • Enable Placement Providers to maintain Sibling Connections. Provide them with the following tip sheet from the Coalition of Children and Families: Fostering Siblings in Separate Homes.
  • Talk with providers regularly about maintaining Sibling Connections.
  • Educate Placement Providers on various methods to keep siblings connected: telephone or Skype calls, photographs, letters and other acceptable social media outlets. 
  • For more information on working with siblings in Foster Care please go to the following link sponsored by the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections:

Siblings in Foster Care Tool Kit

Case Managers and Foster Care coordinators are an essential part of making it possible for siblings to come to camp. Not only as a source of referrals but also in getting needed approvals required for camper participation.

 Camp is only possible due to the multiple volunteers. Volunteers are needed for the following:

  • Camp Counselors
  • Nursing/Medical staff
  • Committees: Fundraising, Marketing & Programming
  • Coordinating Sibling Connection Events