Placement with relatives may have various effects on family reunification depending on such factors as the relationship between the parent(s) and the kin caregivers; proximity (especially if they are in different States); the safety issues that resulted in placement, such as the parent's substance use or incarceration; and the willingness of the caseworker and the family members to consider reunification. The following resources discuss strategies for reuniting children with their parents after being placed with relatives or kin.
Achieving Permanence for Older Children and Youth in Foster Care
Kerman, Maluccio, & Freundlich (2009)
Examines child welfare data and discusses their implications for practice and policy regarding reunification, adoption, and relative guardianship for youth in foster care. The book outlines a range of practices designed to achieve family permanence for youth in foster care: preserving families through community-based services, reunification, adoption, and custody and guardianship arrangements with relatives.
Biological Relatives: Forgotten Caregivers
Gaska & Crewe (2007)
Journal of Health and Social Policy, 22(3/4)
Discusses policy and practice implications, emphasizes increasing the focus on biological relatives in the kinship care network, and identifies issues in reunification in kinship care.
Defining Reunification for Consistent Performance Measurement
Child Welfare League of America (2005)
View Abstract and Document
Investigates the variations and inconsistencies among States in their policies and reporting of data regarding the reunification of children involved in child welfare, and kinship care in particular.
Factors, Characteristics, and Promising Practices Related to Reunification and Re-entry: A Literature Review for the Peer Quality Case Review Process (PDF - 737 KB)
Northern California Training Academy (2009)
Reviews results that find reunification is more likely when families continue to live in the same neighborhood or community so that parents/caregivers can maintain consistent and frequent visits and when services are directed at enhancing and/or improving the parent-child relationship.
Family Reunification and Kinship Care
Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, Barth, DePanfilis, & Plotnick (2009)
In The Child Welfare Challenge: Policy, Practice, and Research
Defines family reunification under the child welfare system, as well as its underlying principles and guidelines, and explores the increasing use of formal and informal kinship care, kinship care policy and practice issues, and outcomes of kinship care.
Foster Children With an Incarcerated Parent: Predictors of Reunification
Hayward & DePanfilis (2007)
Children and Youth Services Review, 29(10)
Reviews various factors, including kinship care, that were found to decrease significantly the likelihood of reunification for children with at least one incarcerated parent.
Kinship Care for African American Children: Disproportionate and Disadvantageous
Harris & Skyles (2008)
Journal of Family Issues, 29
Highlights the individual and systemic practices that perpetuate the overuse of and reliance on kinship care and instead emphasize family reunification as the permanency plan for African-American children in the child welfare system.
Maltreatment Following Reunification: Predictors of Subsequent Child Protective Services Contact After Children Return Home
Connell, Vanderploeg, Katz, Caron, Saunders, & Tebes (2009)
Child Abuse and Neglect: The International Journal, 33(4)
Examines factors that raise risk for remaltreatment among children exiting foster care, such as a previous foster care experiences, exiting care from a nonrelative foster home, and removal due to neglect. Findings show that cases involving youth with a history of repeated foster care entries or in which nonrelatives are used may need additional supports.
Predictors of Foster Care Exits to Permanency: A Competing Risks Analysis of Reunification, Guardianship, and Adoption (PDF - 1,311 KB)
Finds that children in foster care exit to different types of permanency at different rates; reunification occurs the most quickly, followed by guardianship, and then adoption. Three major permanency predictors are also identified.