When children must be removed from their families to ensure their safety, the first goal is to reunite them with their families as soon as possible. Child welfare agencies implement multifaceted strategies that build on family strengths and address concerns. Such strategies may include family engagement, maintaining family and cultural connections, connecting families to evidence-based services in the community, regular and frequent visits among family members and with the worker, and parent education, among others. Returning children home often requires intensive, family-centered services to support a safe and stable family. Services should be tailored to each family's circumstances and should address the issue(s) that brought the child and family into the child welfare system. The following resources offer an array of practices and strategies that support family reunification efforts in child welfare, including State and local examples.
- Engaging parents in reunification
- Assessing readiness for reunification
- Reunification with parents with substance use issues
- Reunification with parents affected by behavioral or physical health issues
- Reunification with parents who are incarcerated
- Reunification in families affected by domestic violence
- Preventing placement re-entry
- Reinstatement of parental rights
All in for Reunification [Video]
ABA Center on Children and the Law (2021)
Focuses on Reunification Month to gain interest from States to honor families and professionals.
Provides an overview of the Family First Prevention Services Act, resources on topics related to the legislation, communication tools for promoting the website, and a calendar with upcoming related webinars and conference calls.
Implementing the Family First Prevention Services Act: A Technical Guide for Agencies, Policymakers and Other Stakeholders
Children’s Defense Fund (2019)
Answers commonly asked questions about implementing the Family First Prevention Services Act for States and Tribes, including what the law states on eligible prevention services and programs, interjurisdictional placements, adoption assistance, child fatalities, and more.
Resource Family Tip Sheet for Supporting Reunification (PDF - 243 KB)
American Bar Association (2017)
Provides practical tips for child welfare professionals engaging families in key processes related to reunification.
Casey Family Programs
Provides resources and publications on supporting family reunification, including topics such as fostering birth and foster parent relationships and strategies to reunite families with substance use disorders.
Reunification: Bringing Your Children Home From Foster Care
California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (2019)
Provides information on programs designed to support the reunification of children and families after child welfare involvement. Information includes essential program components, program goals, scientific ratings, and education and training offered through each program.
Episode 35: Foster Care - A Path to Reunification [Podcast]
Child Welfare Information Gateway (2019)
Presents information and lessons learned from community-based and government organizations that focus on family support and reunification. Each podcast includes a full transcript and related resources.
Part 1: Center for Family Life [Podcast]
Shares the work of the Center for Family Life, a program that aims to stabilize families by providing an array of neighborhood-based family and social services in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Part 2: San Diego County [Podcast]
Explores all the partnerships, trainings, and coordination within San Diego County’s Children’s Services. Listeners will learn about trauma-informed assessment tools, a collaboration with a county-based community college to support training, and the experiences of birth families and older youth.
Family Reunification Following Foster Care
Monroe & Harris (2016)
University of Florida
Provides an overview of family reunification, the specific needs of children for healthy growth and development, and four steps to promote and maintain family reunification.
Permanency Matters: Reunification (PDF - 2,642 KB)
Virginia Department of Social Services (2018)
Provides Virginia reunification statistics, information on a practice model that focuses on the relationship between foster parents and families of origin, and tips for partnering with parents to ensure quality family visits and promote reunification.
Reasonable Efforts to Preserve or Reunify Families and Achieve Permanency for Children
Reunifying Families, Part 1: Realities of Abuse and a Belief in Change
Court Appointed Special Advocates of Travis County, Inc. Provides a three-part series on the realities of the child welfare system in Travis County, TX; working with parents and families with child welfare-involved youth; and the importance of reunification.