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For Child Welfare Professionals

In an effort to improve outcomes for families, it is critical that child welfare professionals have access to resources and information that focus on practices that help achieve successful reunification. The following resources provide selected materials and reports designed to address the specific challenges throughout the reunification process and highlight successful models and strategies for child welfare professionals.

Child Welfare Practice With Families Affected by Parental Incarceration
Child Welfare Information Gateway (2015)
Highlights practices to facilitate parent-child visits during incarceration, include parents in case planning, and work toward reunification.

Family Reunification Following Foster Care
Monroe & Harris (2013)
University of Florida. UF/IFAS Extension
View Abstract
Offers support for families who are being reunified after the children are placed in foster care. It offers tips for these families and their supporters in meeting the needs of the children and the needs of the family as a whole.

Family Reunification in North Carolina
North Carolina Division of Social Services & Family and Children's Resource Program (2013)
Children's Services Practice Notes, 18(3)
View Abstract
Outlines articles on how North Carolina is changing its reunification program by restructuring its Intensive Family Reunification Services, the need for social workers to focus on the process of reunification, strategies for working with families who are not making progress, the need to address shared parenting difficulties as reunification approaches, child welfare training related to reunification in North Carolina, and helping resource families maintain contact after reunification.

Parents' Pasts and Families' Futures: Using Family Assessments to Inform Perspectives on Reasonable Efforts and Reunification (PDF - 389 KB)
Smithgall, DeCoursey, Yang, & Haseltine (2012)
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
Uses family assessments conducted by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to examine parents' past experiences and their current functioning, based on reports of extensive childhood trauma, and implications for caseworker engagement and interventions.

Birth Parent Trauma and What Child Welfare Workers Need to Know [Webinar]
National Child Traumatic Stress Network (2015)
Provides information regarding the impact of trauma on birth parents who have become connected to the child welfare system, including reduced engagement with staff and support services. See also Birth Parents With Trauma Histories and the Child Welfare System (PDF - 245 KB), which highlights the importance of considering the impact of trauma on birth parents and their capacity for constructive parenting.

Bringing Back the Dads: Changing Practices in Child Welfare Systems (PDF - 1,508 KB)
Hahn (Ed.) (2011)
Protecting Children, 26(2)
Presents lessons learned from child welfare researchers and practitioners from across the nation from the National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System.

Creating a Permanence Driven Organization: A Guidebook for Change in Child Welfare (PDF - 9,153 KB)
Jones, LaLiberte, Meyer, Pitt, Wall, & Peterson (2013)
Anu Family Services, Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare
Makes a case for permanency, highlighting the need for reform in the child welfare system. It also discusses research evidence supporting that children require stability in order to thrive.

Enhancing Visitation for Children and Families
Office of Children & Families in the Courts
Provides information approved by the Pennsylvania State Roundtable that has assisted Pennsylvania counties in evaluating guidelines for visitation. It also highlights tools for enhancing visitation and tool specifically for parents, teenagers, and children.

National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment
Provides information, resources, and technical assistance to support states, tribes, and territories in developing a sufficient pool of foster, adoptive, and kinship families to meet the needs of children and youth in foster care. Learn about strategies and ideas from the field that can help child welfare agencies prepare, develop, and support resource families for their role in supporting reunification. 

Reinstating Parental Rights for Youth in Care [Teleconference and Handouts]
National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (2011)
View Abstract
Explains what some States are doing to find permanency for youth by reinstating one or both of their parents' parental rights. This webinar provides an overview of the issues related to termination of parental rights, discusses which States have taken legal actions, considers possible solutions, and asks the question, "Where do we go from here?"

Resources for Holding Icebreaker Meetings Between Birth and Foster Parents
Annie E. Casey Foundation (2012)
Provides resources for increasing positive working relationships between child welfare professionals, birth parents, and foster parents. It also includes a toolkit for teaching agencies how to lead successful icebreakers.

When Family Visits Bring Pain: Helping Children in Foster Care (Column: Fostering Attachment)
Eshleman & Lark (2015)
Fostering Families Today, 15(2)
View Abstract 
Discusses the extreme fear or anger felt by some foster children at having to continue family visits and offers suggestions for helping children cope. Recommendations include: trying to arrange for the same social worker to drive the child to and from visits each time, provide the child with a picture book with pictures of the foster home and foster parents, make sure the child has a transitional object, have the child return to the foster home after visits, and immediately begin soothing the child.

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