For more than 20 years, Arrow foster mom Carroll Powell has been saving siblings from the trauma of being split apart by opening her home to them.
Due to the shortage of foster homes that take in sibling groups, siblings are separated from each other in foster care 75 percent of the time. This can compound the trauma these children are already experiencing from abuse and neglect. Children who are kept with siblings in foster care report feeling safer and more supported than those who are separated from their brothers and sisters.
“They’re already being pulled apart from their parents,” Carroll said. “They need something to hold on to.”
Carroll received her first placement of siblings in 1994. One of those children was Michael, a rambunctious second grader who was far behind in school, especially reading. Because of the stability and discipline Carroll provided, Michael not only learned to read, but caught up in school and graduated. After developing skills in carpentry, landscaping and beyond, Michael is putting his talents to good use in the Arrow facilities department.
“As you grow up, you start feeling different about things,” Michael said. “You have to see where you were and where you are now. I just realized there has got to be a greater purpose in this life. There has to be a reason I’m here. Arrow changed my life.”
Carroll is now taking care of a sibling group of three, all of whom have special needs ranging from ADHD to bipolar disorder. She has fostered them for almost 10 years. She said the job can be tough, but it is worth it to help these children, who have endured terrible trauma in their young lives.
“You have to stop and think,” Carroll said. “These children have taken a blow. They’re dealing with the way society looks at them. These babies didn’t ask for any of that.”
She said it’s important to never give up on foster children. Foster parents are supposed to be their advocates—the people they can rely on to have their best interests at heart, she said. It may take a while, but inevitably, a calm comes over a foster child once they begin to trust you and feel safe.
“I get children that have been jumped around, and it messes them up,” Carroll said. “Parents let go for silly little reasons. The kids are going to act out, but you have to hang on. You wouldn’t let go of your own children, and these are my kids because I am their voice.”