2024 Reunification Month

The primary goal for children in foster care and out-of-home care is reunification. Reunification encourages care and custody to be reinstated to a parent to restore a family. When a family enters the child welfare system, parents must often complete services, eliminate dangers, and follow case plans set forth by the Department of Family Services, in order to have their children returned to them permanently. In 2019, the national median for the reunification of children and their caregivers within 12 months of entering care was 63%. Just more than 7% reentered care within 12 months of a previous foster care system entry. Although reunification is the primary goal, the United States Children’s Bureau has found reunification progress lacking in state performances

Reunification best practices include providing quality family time and bridging gaps between child welfare professionals and parents. Parents may often feel alone and isolated during the reunification process. Therefore, it is important to provide accessible tools and resources to ensure parents are set up to succeed. Foster care, kinship care, and child welfare caseworkers should be there to support parents and their needs. This collaboration can encourage parents on their path to reunification.  

Parent partner programs are a helpful resource for parents as they navigate the child welfare system. These programs lean on “parent partners” or “parent leaders” who are already familiar with the child welfare system. These individuals, who have been in the very situation of the parents they are partnering with, help parents navigate the challenges they experience in trying to regain custody of their children. The parent partners understand what it is like to be in the position of parents attempting to complete the reunification process. They are aware of the frustrations, confusion, and challenges parents face throughout the process. Studies show parent partner programs result in higher rates of reunification for families, lower rates of reentry for children, and an increase in participation in services and court proceedings by the parents. Having someone in their corner, who truly understands their situation, can prove invaluable.

To learn more about parent partner programs and reunification month visit: https://cbexpress.acf.hhs.gov/article/2024/june/the-role-of-parent-partner-programs-in-supporting-prevention-and-reunification/4e923dd787b18250106fb848cebb35a6?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery