Working collaboratively with parents embodies family-centered practice and can facilitate the child’s return home more quickly than if parents are not involved. Engaging parents in the planning process can help ensure they receive the services and supports required for the child's safe return. The following resources provide examples of approaches administrators, supervisors, and frontline workers can use to enhance parent engagement in the case-planning process, including State and local examples.
Effects of Parental and Attorney Involvement on Reunification in Juvenile
Dependency Cases (PDF - 1,147 KB)
Wood & Russell (2011)
Children and Youth Services Review, 33
Examines how the involvement of mothers, fathers, and their respective legal representatives at early decision-making hearings influences reunification in juvenile dependency cases.
Engaging Parents: Innovative Approaches in Child Welfare (PDF - 167 KB)
Marcenko, Brown, DeVoy, & Conway (2010)
Protecting Children, 25(1)
Describes two innovative approaches to parent engagement, including the Parent Mentoring Program, which helps families achieve reunification.
Foster Parents Speak: Crossing Bridges and Fostering Change: Discussion and Resource Guide (PDF - 78 KB)
New York State Citizens' Coalition for Children (2009)
Offers a companion guide for use with a video in which 10 foster parents relate challenges they've faced in developing shared parenting relationships with birth families and professionals to benefit the children in their care. The guide provides starter questions for discussion before watching the video, followed by discussion topics addressing eight areas, such as the challenges of foster parenting, keeping children connected to their birth parents, working with birth families, and reunification. The Foster Parents Speak: Crossing Bridges and Fostering Change video is available for purchase.
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.
The Impact of the Solution Based Casework (SBC) Practice Model on Federal Outcomes in Public Child Welfare (PDF - 310 KB)
Antle, Christensen, van Zyl, & Barbee (2012)
University of Louisville, Kent School of Social Work
Presents findings from a study that showed positive effects of the Solution-Based Casework (SBC) practice model on Federal outcomes of safety, permanency, and well-being. The SBC model combines family development theory, solution-focused skills, and relapse prevention in casework process.
The Long Shadow of Foster Care (PDF - 705 KB)
Rise, 21, (2012)
Provides articles describing the impact of removal on families after reunification has occurred and examples of supports that can help children recover and families reconnect. The issue includes articles written by parents that explore their guilt, struggles, and efforts to address their children's feelings of abandonment, as well as articles on family therapy and intensive in-home services.
Matching Services to Child and Family Needs (PDF - 624 KB)
The Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group (2012)
Improving Outcomes by Improving Practice, 2(2)
Addresses the challenges of tailoring child welfare services to meet child and family needs, discusses the effects and causes of service inflexibility, and provides strategies for matching services to needs.
One Step at a Time
Rise Magazine (2015)
Offers parents information about the process of reunifying with their children. The information includes personal essays from parents who have been through the process. See other publications from Rise Magazine such as, Someone to Turn To (PDF - 3500 KB), Fathers' Rights and Roles (PDF - 411 KB), Addiction in the Family (PDF - 546 KB), and 'I Can and Will Do This!' (PDF - 434 KB).
Why Social Work and Motivational Interviewing? (PDF - 480 KB)
Motivational Interviewing in Social Work Practice
Provides an overview of motivational interviewing (MI), a promising practice in social work practice and a form of collaborative conversation for strengthening a person's own motivation and commitment to change. The chapter outlines MI principles that caseworkers can use to help to engage, motivate, and support parents to enhance the safety and well-being of their children.
Review of Parent Education Models for Family Reunification Programs (PDF - 369 KB)
Cutler Institute, Muskie School of Public Service (2010)
Presents a matrix of parent education models used in family reunification programs that includes a model description and information on target audience, targets of intervention, level of research evidence, child welfare outcomes, required training and fidelity monitoring, and program cost.
Strategies to Increase Birth Parent Engagement, Partnership, and Leadership in the Child Welfare System: A Review (PDF - 429 KB)
Casey Family Programs
Reviews the roles of birth parents in the child welfare system and programs that foster birth parent engagement, including how they can contribute to reunification.
Practice Bulletin: Family Interaction as a Pathway to Permanency (PDF - 231 KB)
Iowa Department of Human Services (2009)
Highlights the Iowa Family Interaction Initiative, an initiative that recognizes that regular, reliable, and goal-oriented interactions between children in placement and their parents and family members are fundamental to achieving permanency, including reunification.
Partnering With Parents: Promising Approaches to Improve Reunification Outcomes for Children in Foster Care
Anthony, Berrick, Cohen, & Wilder (2009)
View Abstract and Document
Describes a program in Contra Costa County, CA, that trains parents who have experienced child removal, services, and reunification to provide direct services to parent clients seeking reunification with their children. The report identifies program components and summarizes evaluation outcomes.
Prince George's Families Need Additional Services to Reunify: Family Teams Can Overcome Parental Resistance to Required Services (PDF - 1,751 KB)
Maryland Advocates for Children and Youth (2010)
Addresses the need to improve reunification services by involving parents in the selection of services and providing family support teams to ensure services are received.