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Resources for Parents

The child welfare system can be difficult to understand—especially if you are a parent dealing with this system for the first time. Your child or children may be placed in an out-of-home setting. That setting could be a foster home, a relative's home, a treatment foster home, or group or residential care. The resources and information provided here will help you learn about what to expect from the child welfare system and where to find support during this difficult time. This section also provides some guides and additional information to help you navigate the system on your journey toward reunification.

What to expect

How the Child Welfare System Works
Series Title Factsheets
Author(s)
Child Welfare Information Gateway
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Year Published 2013
Provides an overview of the purposes and functions of child welfare systems. It explains what happens when abuse or neglect are reported, how those reports are processed, and what happens to the adults and children who are involved in the child welfare system. A flowchart illustrates how cases may move through the child welfare system.
Reunification: Bringing Your Children Home From Foster Care
Series Title Factsheets for Families
Author(s)
Child Welfare Information Gateway
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Versión para imprimir (PDF - 837KB)
Year Published 2016
Provides a general overview of the reunification process, including what parents can expect while their children are in foster care, what they can do to help their children return home, and what to expect after children return home. Resources available to help families during and after reunification also are included.
Understanding Child Welfare and the Courts
Series Title Factsheets for Families
Author(s)
Child Welfare Information Gateway
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Year Published 2016
Provides families involved with the child welfare system an overview of the court process. This factsheet answers frequently asked questions about parental rights and offers suggestions on how to prepare for and respond to court proceedings. It also includes information on filing an appeal, a glossary of court terms, and recommended resources.

One Step at a Time: A Parent-to-Parent Guide to the Child Welfare System (PDF - 4,116 KB)
Rise Magazine (2015)
Explore articles written by parents with experience navigating the child welfare system.

Parenting a Child Who Has Experienced Trauma
Series Title Factsheets for Families
Author(s)
Child Welfare Information Gateway
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Versión para imprimir (PDF - 693KB)
Year Published 2014
Discusses the nature of trauma, especially abuse or neglect, the effects of trauma on children and youth, and ways to help a child who has experienced trauma. Parents or foster parents who do not understand the effects of trauma may misinterpret their child’s behavior, and attempts to address troubling behavior may be ineffective or, in some cases, even harmful. By understanding trauma, parents and foster parents can help support a child’s healing, the parent-child relationship, and their family as a whole.

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Finding support

Circle of Parents
Provides information about parent support support groups These groups offer a friendly, supportive environment led by parents and other caregivers where anyone in a parenting role can openly discuss the successes and challenges of raising children.

Birth Parent National Network
Provides information about a group that works with those who are committed to improving policies for better outcomes for children and families, with a focus on establishing parent leaders who are willing to share their challenges and successes across the country to affect change.

Single Father Uses Experience to Help Other Parents
Casey Family Programs (2016)
Presents how Corey Best reunified with his son and uses his experience to mentor other families navigating the child welfare system.

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Guides and additional information

Guide for Incarcerated Parents Who Have Children in the Child Welfare System (PDF - 613 KB)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, the Administration for Children and Families, & U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons (2015)
Explains the ways in which parents involved in the criminal justice system can stay connected with their child and actively participate in decisions about their child’s well-being.

Guide to Dependency Court—For Parents
California Courts
Outlines standard court processes for parents whose children have been placed into the child welfare system.

Clients Rights and Responsibilities Statement
Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe. Inc.
Outlines behavioral and legal expectations for clients participating in child welfare programs.

Foster Care (FC) Virginia Department of Social Services
Virginia Department of Social Services
Defines foster care and the role of foster care plays in working with families towards reunification and permanency.

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