Reunification is the most common goal for children in foster care. When children are separated from their families, the first goal is to reunify them when it is safe enough to do so. To support the reunification process, child welfare agencies should implement trauma-informed, family-centered approaches that build on family strengths and actively engage parents, youth, and kin— including maternal and paternal relatives and fictive kin—as experts on their own lives.
Identifying the safety issue that brought the family to the attention of the child welfare system, assessing family strengths and needs, and bringing together a team of partners to include the family, caregivers, and legal and community providers are all strategies that can positively impact reunification and support long-term family stability.
Reunification services should be strengths based, culturally responsive, trauma informed, and accessible to parents. Because African American children are less likely to exit foster care through reunification than White children, increasing reunification rates for these children and families is one way to address racial disproportionality and disparity in child welfare.
Use these resources to learn practices and strategies that support family reunification in child welfare.
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National Quality Improvement Center on Family-Centered Reunification
Find information on how public and Tribal child welfare agencies are working to implement evidence-based strategies to support birth families and families of origin who have children involved in the foster care system.
Partnering With Birth Parents To Promote Reunification
Learn what foster caregivers can do to promote reunification, which may include communicating with birth parents, the caseworker, and the agency; cultivating compassion; and maintaining contact with families after reunification or other permanency.
Partnering With Relatives to Promote Reunification
Shares stories and advice from caregivers and birth parents who have experienced kinship care on the importance of maintaining boundaries, managing family dynamics, building trust, positive parenting and communication, and securing support.
Reasonable Efforts to Preserve or Reunify Families and Achieve Permanency for Children
Review laws that require child welfare agencies to make reasonable efforts to provide services to help families remedy the conditions that brought the child and family into the child welfare system. The factsheet also defines reasonable efforts.
Spotlight on Reunification
Highlights the importance of supporting families as they work toward their reunification goals and provides reunification resources for professionals and the families they serve.
What Factors Support Family Reunification?
Shares examples of child welfare interventions and practices that can help support successful reunification from the National Quality Improvement Center on Family-Centered Reunification.