The New Jersey Siblings’ Bill of Rights (SBOR) requires the State to protect a child’s relationships with siblings when a child is placed in foster care.
It adds to existing protections from the Child in Placement Bill of Rights (CPBOR), enacted in 1991. This law already recognized the importance in foster children retaining their sibling bonds. For example, the CPBOR:
- Requires the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) to use its “best efforts” to place a child in the same home or facility as any siblings who have also been removed from home.
- Entitles foster children to regular visits with any siblings from whom they have been separated.
The SBOR goes further. It emphasizes that New Jersey should take sibling bonds seriously and adds several protections, such as:
- If a child’s removal separates siblings, or if DCPP, for some reason, cannot place siblings in the same foster care home, then DCPP must place the child as close as possible to the sibling.
- Foster children are now entitled not only to regular in-person visits, but also to the use of phones or computers for virtual sibling visits.
- Foster caregivers may not take away a child’s visit with a sibling as a punishment for misconduct.
- Foster children are now entitled to participate in decision-making about where their siblings in foster care will be permanently placed. They are also entitled to invite their siblings to do the same about their own permanent placement.
- Finally, a child in foster care has the right to be actively involved in their siblings’ lives, “including planning and attending celebrations, birthdays, holidays, graduations, and other meaningful milestones.”
In the rare case where sibling interactions are harmful, DCPP is not compelled to facilitate them.
If you need help with civil legal issues, contact the LSNJLAWSM Hotline at www.lsnjlawhotline.org or by calling 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529).
This information last reviewed: Mar 31, 2023