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'Camp To Belong' reunites siblings

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Updated: 6/14/2013 10:37 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Five children who ran away from ‘Child Haven’, Clark County's emergency shelter for kids, were safely returned to the center.

The episode reignites the conversation about the county's need for foster homes, where brothers and sisters can stay together.

Children attending 'Camp to Belong' are brothers and sisters who are being reunited.

They have been separated, often because of foster care or adoption. Child Focus program manager Jeff Grandy says these children have been traumatized by family issues that were no fault of their own, and when they were pulled out of their home that was difficult enough.

“Then to be separated from their brother and sister compounds that hurt and that damage and when we have brothers and sisters that come to our activities they just blossom,” Grandy said.

Child Focus exists to keep the bond between siblings alive. And they hope current of future foster parents would consider accepting children in groups of three or more to keep brothers and sisters together.

“Often times siblings get separated because there's not enough beds in one person's house, because sometimes there are families of five, families of eight, or even families of three, but someone doesn't have enough beds that are open so siblings unfortunately get separated,” Grandy said.

District Judge Frank Sullivan oversees numerous family cases.

“Now if you break siblings that could be equally or more traumatic than taking them from their parents because in those sibling groups many times the older one has been the parent. They’ve been the one taking care of their brothers and sisters many times,” Sullivan said.

At any given time he says there are about 650 foster homes available and about 1,200 children in those homes. But Judge Sullivan says there is consistently a shortage, especially for homes offering three or more beds, or with a willingness to take in older children.

The judge says the goal: keep brothers and sisters together, often the only family they really have.

The group Foster Kinship gives support to people raising relatives' children, and tells us relatives don't have to be licensed.

They do have to go through a background check, but the requirements foster parents have to face can be waived when family is involved.

The court's ultimate goal is to keep siblings together; and, when possible, reunite children with parents.

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