When children are removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect and placed into out-of-home care, the first goal is to reunify them with their families. Casework practice with birth families involves assessing their strengths and needs and developing, implementing, and monitoring a case plan (also called a treatment plan or service plan) to ensure their suitability as caregivers to then achieve a goal of reunification. Case managers must use effective family engagement practices to include the biological parents and refer families for community services to help them address and overcome the problems that led to placement. Resources include State and local examples.
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.
Case Planning for Families Involved With Child Welfare Agencies
Family Engagement: Partnering With Families to Improve Child Welfare Outcomes
Family Focused Treatment Association
Provides resources to help child welfare professionals serve biological, foster, and adoptive youth and families with treatment needs in a family-based setting.
Partnering With Birth Parents To Promote Reunification
Quality Worker-Parent Visits: A Tip Sheet for Supervisors and Managers (PDF - 202 KB)
Capacity Building Center for States (2017)
Describes how supervisors and program managers can assist child welfare caseworkers in conducting quality visits with parents. The tip sheet suggests supports for workers before, during, and after a visit along with questions to ask and potential “red flags” to address.
Support Matters: Lessons From the Field on Services for Adoption, Foster, and Kinship Care Families (PDF - 1,454 KB)
National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids (2017)
Provides guidance on using support services to recruit families, assess family needs, use data to demonstrate the value of services, and implement programs.
Birth Parent Stories
Milwaukee Child Welfare Partnership (2019)
Provides insights from birth parents who have had their child/ren placed in out-of-home-care by the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare.
Virginia Department of Social Services
Explains the ways in which the principles of family engagement are used in Virginia child welfare practices.
How Have Counties in New York Approached Implementation of Casework Teaming?
Casey Family Programs (2021)
Discusses the process of implementing teaming at one New York child welfare agency, including the initiation process and specific adaptions that were made. Lessons learned from this experience are also available.
Impact: Helping Parents Navigate a Complex System
The Children’s Village
Outlines a New York State program designed to support and empower parents as they seek reunification with their children in foster care.
My Family Connections Booklet (PDF - 3,482 KB)
Iowa Foster & Adoptive Parents Association (2015)
Provides a detailed photo workbook for biological parents to fill out while their children are in out-of-home care. The purpose of the booklet is to help maintain close relationships between children and their birth parents and to facilitate information sharing between birth and foster parents throughout the foster care process.