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, 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 must 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
National Family Preservation Network
Provides an overview of the history, values and beliefs, program standards, research, public policy, and resources on safely and effectively reuniting families following out-of-home placement.
Making Reunification Possible for Older Youth
Pokempner, Mikell, & Rodriguez (2018)
Juvenile Law Center
Provides strategies and tips for encouraging reunification for older youth in foster care, as well information on the need for and importance of ensuring supportive relationships for youth who have experienced trauma.
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.
California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (2018)
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.
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.
Family Reunification in North Carolina
North Carolina Division of Social Services & North Carolina Family and Children's Resource Program (2013)
Children's Services Practice Notes, 18(3)
Includes articles about data on time to reunification for children and families in the State of North Carolina, changes to the State's family reunification program, information about collaboration with the courts, and more.
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.
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Child Welfare Information Gateway
Download (PDF - 821KB)
Reunification of Foster Children With Their Families: The First Permanency Outcome (PDF - 263 KB)
State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center
Discusses reunification of children with their families, including challenges, examples of promising State approaches, and Federal funding.
Reunifying Families Series
Court Appointed Special Advocates of Travis County, Inc. (2017)
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 reason for the push for reunification.