What Is the Reunification Process?
Reunification within the foster care system is when the child is returned to the birth family. The court decides after all services are completed, the wellbeing of the child and if it’s the best interest of the child, reunification is the good option. When the child is reunified with their birth family they are no longer in the foster care system.
The foster care system’s goal is to reunify the children with their families. When children are brought into the system, there are guidelines the birth family needs to follow to get the children back. The birth parents/family are provided a case plan or services to get their child back home. The main reason a child is taken away from their home is when it’s unsafe for the child to live there. The case plan lists any concerning issues that need to be met. The case plan may include therapy, home visits, parenting classes, health assessments (in case of mental illness), and drug tests.
There’s no time frame of how long a child stays in foster care. The child may end up in multiple foster homes before reunifying with family. When reunification is not the best interest of the child, the other option is to put the child in a pre-adoptive foster home and the parent rights can be terminated.
During the process of the reunification parents and families are allowed to visit the child. The visits can be supervised or unsupervised depending on the case. In some cases visits are not allowed based on the safety of the child.
Since being removed from their birth home can be a traumatic event some children are placed with a relative or someone close to them, this is known as kinship placement.
Social workers, guardian ad Litem, and lawyers help to provide the best interest of the child. They are responsible for gathering information from the case, the child gets their attorney and the parents have their own separate attorney.
The case plan is the road map for bringing your children home.