Family reunification in child welfare refers to the process of returning children from temporary foster care (also known as out-of-home care) to their families of origin. Families need information and resources to help navigate the child welfare system. Sometimes, families can learn from others who have had similar experiences. It is possible to reunify with your children as a stronger family. Use the following resources to learn more about the child welfare system, what to expect during the reunification process, and access other helpful information.
One Step at a Time
Rise Magazine (2015)
Offers parents information about the process of reunifying with their children. The information includes personal essays from parents who have been through the process. See other publications from Rise Magazine such as, Someone to Turn To (PDF - 3500 KB), Fathers' Rights and Roles (PDF - 411 KB), Addiction in the Family (PDF - 546 KB), and 'I Can and Will Do This!' (PDF - 434 KB).
The Parents' Get Real Guide to Getting Your Kids Back (PDF - 5,490 KB)
Leggins, Randall, Cox, & Wolf (2011)
Be Strong Families
Provides parents with information on effective strategies for reuniting with their children. Highlights how to attain practical resources as well as emotional and spiritual support.
The Parents' Get Real Guide to Keeping Your Kids Home (PDF - 16,180 KB)
Cox, Neely, Randall, & Wolf (2011)
Be Strong Families
Supports parents by providing strategies and tips for keeping their children at home after returning from foster or kinship care. Helps parents to keep their children from returning to the child welfare system by improving confidence and competency in parenting.
How the Child Welfare System Works
Child Welfare Information Gateway (2013)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau
Provides a brief overview of the child welfare system and its purposes and functions. Child welfare systems typically receive and investigate reports of possible child abuse and neglect; provide services to families that need assistance in the protection and care of their children; arrange for children to live with kin or with foster families when they are not safe at home; and arrange for reunification, adoption, or other permanent family connections for children leaving foster care.
My Family Connections Booklet (PDF - 3,486 KB)
Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parents Association
Presents a keepsake booklet birth parents can complete for their child to help ease their child's transition into a foster home. The booklet includes pages for family photos, a family tree, contact information for the special people in the child's life, medical and educational information, a page for the parent to personally engage with the child, and more.
Finding Your Way: Guides for Fathers in Child Protection Cases (PDF - 15,808 KB)
American Bar Association and American Humane Association (2011)
Provides important tips for noncustodial fathers involved in child protection cases, focusing on issues such as the father's legal rights, child support and courtroom etiquette. They include information written specifically for fathers on how they can be active participants in their children's case and successfully navigate the child welfare system.
Parental Rights: Toolkit & Educational Resources
Women's Refugee Commission
Provides step-by-step instructions and resources to help migrant parents protect and maintain their parental rights and make well-informed, critical decisions regarding the care and welfare of their children in immigration cases.
A 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, Administration for Children and Families, & U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons (2015)
Offers parents involved in the criminal justice and child welfare system guidance on how to stay in touch with their children and stay involved in decisions about their children's well-being. The guide also includes information on steps required by the child welfare system for reunification—having children return home to their family after foster care.