Youth in out-of-home care need positive relationships and connections with the people in their lives; they especially need to stay connected with their birth parents and other family members to maintain the integrity of these relationships when they return home. Foster parents, in particular, play a critical role in cultivating relationships with birth parents to support child and parent visitation and contact and increase the likelihood of successful reunification. Resources in this section will demonstrate how collaborative relationships between birth parents and foster parents can promote family engagement, sibling connections, and long-term relationship development and preservation for youth in out-of-home care. Resources include State and local examples.
Birth and Foster Parent Partnership
National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds (2018)
Works to create partnerships between parents who advocate for policy and practices that benefit children and families. The organization supports several strategies to help birth parents and foster parents work together.
Building Bridges Between Birth Parents, Foster Parents
The Chronicle of Social Change
Provides information on a growing movement at the national level to bring birth parents and foster parents together. The Birth and Foster Parent Partnership works to identify practices and policies that can affect how different types of parents interact to achieve the best outcomes for children and youth in care.
Episode 41: Birth-Foster Parent Mentoring Teams [Podcast]
Child Welfare Information Gateway (2019)
Features a conversation with birth and foster parent mentors and leaders, along with the 2018 California Social Worker of the year, as they describe their work toward changing the culture of foster care to support reunification by creating relationships and partnerships between birth and foster parents.
Equipping Foster Parents to Actively Support Reunification (PDF - 158 KB)
Acts as a guide for organizations and child welfare professionals to help them assess their approach to preparing and supporting foster parents in their role in working toward reunification.
How Can Birth and Foster Parent Partnerships Help Families Reunify?
Casey Family Programs (2018)
Describes what it would look like if birth parents with experience in the child welfare system and foster parents worked together to mentor and support birth parents who recently had their children removed from the home.
Ice Breakers: Tapping Into the Power of Families Supporting Families (PDF - 349 KB)
American Bar Association Center, Children and the Law (2019)
Recognizes the important role foster parents play in supporting birth parents and their reunification efforts, which has led to new communication and partnership practices.
Making a Difference by Maintaining Connections
Gillespie Foster (2016)
Provides information on how to help young people maintain connections with birth family members and how successful foster and kinship parents can help build these relationships. The page also includes information specific to reunification, sibling connections, and adoption.
|Series Title||Factsheets for Families|
Child Welfare Information Gateway
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Positive Interactions With Birthparents as a Foster Parent
Explains how to have positive interactions with birth parents during a foster placement and provides tips for foster parents on how to handle various situations.
Resource Families Supporting Reunification (PDF - 161 KB)
American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law
Summarizes interviews with resource families and discusses their motivation, practices, and goals. The resource families said building strong relationships with birth families led to easier reunifications and more stability for the children they were fostering.
Tip Sheet for Supporting Family Reunification
Child Law Practice Today
Describes how foster parents can be one of the most important resources to help children reunify with their families as well as strategies for how families can support reunification. These collaborative strategies include respecting birth parents and being compassionate, encouraging visitation, communicating regularly, and promoting cooperation.
3 Simple Ways to Build a Positive Relationship With Your Foster Child's Birth Parents
Trinity Youth Services (2018)
Provides information on how foster parents can work to build positive relationships with birth parents. The tips include suggestions on how to be supportive, what questions to ask yourself, how to host family meetings, and more.
Chapter 4: Developing and Maintaining Family Connections (PDF - 246 KB)
State of Wisconsin Foster Parent Handbook (2017)
Examines the critical role foster parents play in maintaining relationships between children and their biological families. The chapter illustrates the powerful impact foster parent support and assistance can have on strengthening a family.
Partners With Birth Parents for Reunification
Fostering Change: Alliance for New Hampshire Foster Parents (2017)
Presents information and resources for parents on shared parenting between birth parents and foster parents, with the aim of helping birth parents focus on the well-being of their children while they are in care. The website explains shared family care and gives examples of additional materials that may be useful.
Tips for Working With Biological Parents (PDF - 623 KB)
Iowa Foster & Adoptive Parents Association (2015)
Provides tips for foster parents on working with biological parents and outlines stages of grief and loss birth parents may feel when a child is removed from their home. The resource provides information on working with biological parents through each stage.