When the word “reunification” comes up in the world of foster care, what exactly does it mean? According to Child Welfare Information Gateway, reunification is defined as the following:

When children must be removed from their families to ensure their safety, the first goal is to reunite them with their families as soon as possible. Child welfare agencies implement multifaceted strategies that build on family strengths and address concerns. Such strategies may include family engagement, maintaining family and cultural connections, connecting families to evidence-based services, regular and frequent visits among family members and with the worker, and parent education, among others. Returning children home often requires intensive, family-centered services to support a safe and stable family.

There is such a thing as reunification therapy which is usually obtained by court order. It is either therapy to reunite parents with children or to heal a broken parent-child relationship.  Marriage and family therapists are considered some of the best providers for this service because they are intensively trained in Family Systems Theory.¹ Such therapy is usually long-term and has three basic elements: (1) assessment, (2) commitment and preparation, and (3) integration.²

For more information about reunification including state-specific laws and guidelines, you may want to read the article, “Reasonable Efforts to Preserve or Reunify Families and Achieve Permanency for Children.”³

Resources

¹Olson, Camille. What is reunification therapy? August, 13, 2016. www.provofamilies.com.

²Law Offices of Edward R. Weinstein, What is reunification therapy?

³Child Information Gateway, www.childwelfare.gov, March 2016.

Nancy J. Evans Hall is married to the love of her life and has a wonderful teenage daughter. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A.T. in Humane Education. She had the privilege of studying at Oxford Univerisity in England for a while and eventually moved overseas for nearly 4 years. She enjoys traveling, writing, yoga and Pilates, rock music and festivals, and all things animal-related — she has several rescued pets. She currently works as an academic advisor at a state college.