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TAGS: Reunification
Written by Washington Foster Team
March 4, 2020

Reunification is one of the biggest challenges for foster parents.

It asks them to actively support birth parents and children to reconnect as a family. But for many foster parents, that just doesn’t make sense. If children are removed from their parents, it must have been for a good reason, right?

Answering that question is complicated, but reunification is the most important goal of foster care because it results in the best long-term outcomes for children and their parents.

To understand why that’s the case, let’s take a look at the most common points of debate.


Children Are In Foster Care For A Reason

“When I came into the system, I didn't know what a nurturing father was. I didn't have a father at home.” — Jason Bragg

Jason Bragg’s son was never abused, but he was neglected for a time. When Bragg’s struggle with addiction was too much to handle, he would take his son to his mother’s. Eventually, CPS was notified and Bragg lost his son.

Bragg had asked for help before, but it wasn’t until he hit rock bottom that he qualified for the help and services he needed.

Download Now: Reunify And Thrive: Why Reunification Is Critical To Foster Care

Children aren’t placed in foster care lightly, but many people assume all children in out-of-home care were seriously abused. In reality, the majority of children in foster care are actually the victims of neglect.

Throughout the process of reunification, birth parents attend training sessions, prove steady employment, have their homes inspected, and meet regularly with caseworkers to ensure they’re ready to take care of their children again.

Placing a child back in their home is taken just as seriously as removing them. The goal is always to find the safest, most stable place for a child to live. Studies have shown that reunification improves permanency outcomes and allows families to thrive.


Reunification Is Good For Children, But Hard For Foster Parents

This can be true but it doesn’t have to be.

If you go in with the right mind-set and get the support you need, it can actually be one of the most rewarding things you do.

Reading real stories of reunification is a powerful way to start learning about the process. Take Samantha, for example. She lost her children while in jail. When she got out, it was the support of her children’s foster parents that allowed her to reunify with her boys.

Or the Daniels family. When they were separated from their children, they used the opportunity to take parenting classes and learn skills that allowed them to be better moms and dads. Now, they’re home as a family again.

Once you start learning about reunification, mentally prepare for it by:

  • Accepting it as the likely outcome of your foster care experience.
  • Connecting with birth parents as early and as often as possible to give them support and share information about their child.
  • Reaching out for support from experienced foster families, your agency, and non-profit organizations that specialize in reunification.

Reunification is challenging, but there are lots of ways to get help throughout the process.


Every Situation Is Different

While the news is riddled with one negative story after another about abusive parents, that’s only one side of a few different stories. It’s not showing the full picture, and it doesn’t mean it’s true for everyone, like Jason Bragg.

After he lost his son, Bragg attended dozens of meetings, training sessions, and phone calls. He juggled part-time jobs to ensure his schedule was flexible enough to meet with caseworkers.

But the drive to reunify with his son kept him going. Now, years later, they’re back together. Bragg works to help other fathers get the help they need to take care of their children.

With the right resources and support, anyone can turn their life around. And in most cases, everyone deserves a second chance. As Bragg says, “The person that deserves another chance is my son, the chance to be raised by his father."

Learn more about reunification and why it’s so important for foster children by reading our free guide, Reunify And Thrive: Why Reunification Is Critical To Foster Care.

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Reunify And Thrive: Why Reunification Is Critical To Foster Care

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