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 can help ensure they receive the services and supports they need while also maintaining the integrity of the parent-child relationship and increasing the likelihood of reunification. 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.
Birth and Foster Parent Partnership: A Relationship Building Guide (PDF – 4,810 KB)
Children’s Trust Fund Alliance (2020)
Guides agencies and families to help build respectful and supportive relationships with one another to best meet the needs of the children or youth in care, strengthen their families and support reunification and other alternative placements.
Birth and Foster Parent Partnership: A Relationship Building Guide and the Birth and Foster Parent Partnership: A State and Local Leader’s Guide to Building a Strong Policy and Practice Foundation (PDF – 10,160 KB)
Children’s Trust Fund Alliance (2020)
Describes practices learned about culture, practice, and policy transformation from Quality Parenting Initiative jurisdictions that have been working to implement system changes to prioritize strong birth and foster parent partnerships.
Family Engagement: Partnering With Families to Improve Child Welfare Outcomes
Family Time/Visitation: The Road to Safe Reunification (PDF - 292 KB)
Child Law Practice, 36(2)
American Bar Association Center on Children and the LawHighlights family visitation practices that can improve the experience for the child and family and lead to earlier and safer reunification. Topics include preparing for family visitation, considering the level of supervision needed, prioritizing family time that mimics family life, and addressing barriers.
How Do Parent Partner Programs Instill Hope and Support Prevention and Reunification?
Casey Family Programs (2019)
Describes a program that connects parent mentors (i.e., parents who have experience with the child welfare system) with parents who have recently lost custody of their children or are under investigation to help them better navigate the system. The brief explains the benefits for parents, evidence of effectiveness, implementation considerations, and examples of successful programs.
It's All Relative: Fostering Relationships Through Visitation [Webinar]
Capacity Building Center for States (2018)
Highlights strategies and best practice examples of collaborative parent partnerships and trauma-informed visitation. The presenters share challenges, successful solutions, resources, and the stories of their journey building supportive relationships between birth families, caregivers, and agencies.
National Foster Care Month: Implementing Parent Partner Programs and Supporting Reunification [Webinar]
Capacity Building Center for States (2016)
Provides child welfare professionals with an overview of parent partner programs and explores how these programs benefit parents and children and ultimately support reunification. Registration is required to access this webinar.
National Reunification Month: Innovative Practices to Promote Unification [Video]
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (2017)
Highlights State-specific strategies to support reunification and engage caregivers in partnerships.
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).
Partners in Planning - When Parents Are Supported to Participate in Planning, We Can Make Better Decisions
Examines the importance of parent perspectives and involvement in case planning. The article presents a personal story about a foster care agency worker's experience working directly with families.
Episode 27: The Power of the Parents’ Voice [Podcast]
Child Welfare Information Gateway (2018)
Provides direction and guidance to help communicate the importance and impact of the parent’s voice when it comes to implementing services and creating policies to support the child welfare system in creating a family-centered approach.
Preparing for Reunification
Provides perspective from a former youth in care to emphasize the importance of connection while in care who now works for the State of Iowa.
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.
Strange Bedfellows: How Child Welfare Agencies Can Benefit From Investing in Multidisciplinary Parent Representation
Center for the Study of Social Policy (2015)
Explores how child welfare agencies can benefit from effectively engaging parents in all aspects of case planning. This article highlights parent representation models that promote the safe reunification of children in foster care.
Supporting Successful Reunifications
A User's Guide to the Parent Partner Program Navigator
Capacity Building Center for States (2019)
Presents tools and resources for agencies to use to improve existing Parent Partner Programs or design and implement new ones. This web-based tool includes four learning domains: assessing readiness needs and capacity, program design, program management, and engagement & partnerships.
Episode 2: Developing and Sustaining a Parent Partner Program [Podcast]
Child Welfare Information Gateway (2016)
Discusses the benefits and challenges of developing a parent partner program as experienced by the Iowa Department of Human Services.
How Does the Parents for Parents Program Help Parents Reunify?
Casey Family Programs (2018)
Describes a program in Washington State that connects families with parent allies as they navigate dependency court cases, including outreach at court hearings, participation in a Dependency 101 class, and more. The brief includes lessons learned.
Parent Mentoring Program in L.A. County Helps Reunify Families Separated by Foster Care
Shares the story of two families impacted by the Parents in Partnership program, in L.A. County and regained custody of their children after they were placed into foster care.
Reunify My Family
City of Philadelphia (2019)
Provides information and resources on family reunification, including the process, the parties involved in the family’s case, parenting support services, and more.
Single Father Uses Experience to Help Other Parents
Casey Family Programs (2016)
Presents how Corey Best reunified with his son and uses his experience to mentor other families navigating the child welfare system.