Written by Foster Team
In Washington State, approximately 57% of children placed in out-of-home care were reunited with their parents within three years. While that may not sound bad at a glance, this number should be higher.
Supporting a child and their family toward reunification is a selfless and loving gift that foster parents offer to thousands of families every year.
In Washington State, approximately 57% of children placed in out-of-home care were reunited with their parents within three years.
We understand that reunification can be difficult for foster parents, especially after they’ve bonded with their foster child. But, you should know that you're not alone. The foster community is here to support you through the process.
The first step toward preparing for reunification is understanding why it's the goal in the majority of foster care situations.
1) Better Outcomes
Imagine being a child who has to move from home to home, meeting new strangers, attending new schools, and having to make new friends every few months or years.
When children return to live with their parents, they’re less likely to have to transition, or change homes again. This provides more stability and security, and helps the child grow up in a house that feels more like home.
It also means keeping them aligned with their traditions, culture, and maybe even first language. When a child is taken away from their home, it's difficult to find foster parents that are aligned, which makes the feeling of separation even harder on the child.
2) Positive Impact on The Parents
One of the most common reunification myths is that birth parents are horrible people. This is simply not true.
Often, children are placed in out-of-home care because their parents are battling their challenges like addiction or financial instability.
As a foster parent, you give parents the chance to catch up and get healthy — a lifestyle they’re more likely to maintain if they’re held accountable to take care of their child again through reunification.
You're not just fostering reunification, you're fostering a future in which parents and their children can thrive.
3) Better Development Outcomes
When children have consistent, stable routines in loving homes, they're more likely to thrive in school and social settings when compared to those that remain in foster care.
Think about it.
When children lose everything and are placed in a completely new situation, it only makes sense that they don’t feel like they belong.
Foster children are deprived of the type of stability that most children take for granted. This often leads to anxiety, fear, and depression in children unequipped to cope with such chaotic lives. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help.
4) Less Stress for Children
Changing homes is a stressful experience for any child.
Reunification allows them to return to a stable, consistent environment, with routines they know and understand. It's just one of the ways foster parents promote better mental health, lower stress, and happier lives for children.
5) Positive Ties to Extended Families
Reunification doesn’t just support a child and their biological parents, it also supports their extended family, who don’t have to divide their support between a child’s foster family and biological family.
Are you ready to foster reunification for a family who needs you? If you live in Washington State, we can help. Get more info on becoming a foster parent.