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The FamilyTie vision

“We want siblings of disabled, seriously and chronically ill children and young people to grow up healthy and untroubled. Each sibling should find a suitable and high quality provision in its vicinity when needed.”


FamilyTies built on three pillars to ensure the sustainability needed.

“All those affected need 'safe' areas where they can resolve their conflicts.”
Marlies Winkelheide, workshops for siblings, Bremen
“The FamilienBande initiative is like building a house. So far, we’ve only just dug out the foundations.”
Mark Never, CPO Novartis Deutschland

The Guiding principles of FamilyTies

  • Create awareness of the issue: Address the subject of siblings and their particular family situation at an early stage and at all levels.
  • Help people to help themselves: Enable the affected sibling and other family members to help themselves.
  • Low threshold treatment: Siblings should not be stigmatized and the whole family should be involved.
  • Holistic: Consider all relevant aspects. Health and well-being are not only defined by how well the body functions, but also by activities and the degree of participation in them, with consideration being given to the particular living environment (e.g. family, school, clubs).
  • Individuality:  Focus on the needs of the individual and his/her environment.

  • Resource orientation:  What can the family members do themselves, which kind of help is available.

  • Effectiveness and efficiency: Use suitable methods in a professional way.

  • Scientific quality: Work on the current state of research.

  • Quality management: Examine and evaluate new properties and methods.

Help and support for sibling children

Various social organisations and self-help groups are already offering support for sibling children and/or their families in Germany. To date, however, those affected have often had great difficulty in finding the help and support they need as they have been unable to locate the services available. Even professionals find it hard to signpost families to suitable support. There is therefore a need for adequate, transparent, and systematic support for children and their families that is needs-based, quality-assured, and comprehensive.

FamilyTies has therefore made it its mission to make existing services easy to find and to initiate new services. There are more than 200 services  registered in the FamilyTies database which offer a range of support, from information and advice to support and care through to experiential education and the fostering of self-awareness.

Model for the support of sibling children/ quality circles/ core model

FamilyTies is in the process of developing a comprehensive model for the support of sibling children, ranging from prevention to rehabilitation. This involves analysing the services available to date, identifying those that provide specific support for sibling children, ensuring that they reflect research findings, and finally defining them clearly. Insights into stress management, an important element of the support for sibling children, have been gained at various sites (Augsburg, Hamburg etc.) in developing the prevention model, “Supporting Siblings” (SuSi). The experience thus gained is to be made available in future to other organisations seeking to develop new services for sibling children.

Organisations providing support for sibling children regularly meet at supraregional quality circles to exchange information and experiences, and a system of consistent documentation is being developed .

In addition, the FamilyTies Foundation is working on a core model in partnership with practitioners and academics, with the aim of providing an overview of all the elements essential to the provision of effective support for sibling children.

Continuing professional development

With the support of the FamilyTies Foundation, the Institute for Social Medicine in Paediatrics Augsburg (ISPA) together with practitioners from the Sozialverband (social association) VdK Bayern and the Bildungs- und Erholungsstätte (educational and recreational centre) Langau have developed a continuing professional development model for qualified staff in social welfare and healthcare – a pilot course that qualifies staff as trained specialists in sibling support.

The course not only provides the theoretical background to the situation and needs of siblings but also develops specific practical skills that can be applied in sibling work. Participants have the opportunity to contribute their own experiences and motivation to the course and reflect upon them and also to acquire the tools to develop needs-based support for siblings.


 To the course „Fachkraft für Geschwister“ (only in German)


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