When children must be removed from their birth families for their protection, the first goal is to achieve reunification as safely as possible. Child welfare agencies implement multifaceted strategies that build on strengths and address concerns. Returning children home often requires intensive, family-centered services to support a safe and stable family. The following resources address family reunification in child welfare, including State and local examples.
- Engaging parents in reunification
- Reunification assessment
- Reunification with substance-abusing parents
- Preventing re-entry
Cornerstone Advocacy in the First 60 Days: Achieving Safe and Lasting Reunification for Families (PDF - 264 KB)
New York State Child Welfare Court Improvement Project
CWCIP Best Practice Bulletin, 3(1), 2011
Summarizes key elements of the Cornerstone approach to supporting family reunification with intensive advocacy during the first 60 days of a child welfare case and the use of preliminary conferences to ensure timely and well-informed decisions regarding placement, visiting, and services. A preliminary conference checklist and list of resources are also included.
Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Programs Overview
Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2002)
Presents a series of reports from a project that evaluated programs designed to prevent, when possible, the placement of children in foster care and to reunify families that had at least one child placed in foster care. The website includes interim and final reports as well as related issue papers on family preservation, fiscal reform, and cost estimation.
Identifying and Reducing Barriers to Reunification for Seriously Mentally Ill Parents Involved in Child Welfare Cases (PDF - 648 KB)
Risley-Curtiss, Stromwall, Hunt, & Teska
Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 85(1), 2004
Presents research and practice recommendations to enhance the potential for mentally ill parents to reunify with their children.
Intensive Family Reunification Services Protocol
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.
Introduction to Parent-Child Visits
Child Welfare Information Gateway & National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections
Provides a self-guided online training course for child welfare and related professionals to improve outcomes through parent-child visits and enhance efforts toward family reunification.
National Reunification Month
American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law
Provides planning tools for organizing local reunification celebrations, describes what other jurisdictions are doing to celebrate reunification, and shares stories of "Reunification Heroes" in honor of National Reunification Month in June.
Promoting Permanency: Successful Exits from Therapeutic Group Care Through Family and Community Reintegration
Casey Family Programs (2009)
Features a brief video that shares the stories of three families reunited through the Child Protective Services Reintegration Pilot Project, which provides an extensive network of wraparound services and supports to caregivers of youth who are in the foster care system and are attempting to reintegrate into their homes and communities. A discussion guide for facilitators is also available.
Reuniting Looked After Children With Their Families
Reviews research in the United Kingdom and the United States on patterns and outcomes of reuniting children with their birth families.
National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections
Offers a collection of publications, State resources, and other materials addressing family reunification policies and practices.
Child and Family Services Policy Manual: Child Protective Services: In-Home/Reunification Services (PDF - 161 KB)
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Child and Family Services Division (2010)
Addresses the provision of in-home and reunification services to divert children from entering the foster care system, reduce their duration of stay in care, and alleviate safety concerns in families whose children have been removed so they can safely be reunited.
Closer To Home: Keeping Foster Children Near Their Parents Can Help Families Rebuild (PDF - 556 KB)
Glenn, Nauer, & Reibel (2004)
Discusses the New York City Administration for Children's Services' emphasis on neighborhood-based foster placements and presents benefits and barriers to these placements.