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August 2007Vol. 8, No. 7Improving Reunification Outcomes

A recent teleconference presentation by the National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) highlighted several practices in the area of family reunification, including a county program, a useful measurement tool, and an ongoing study.

One focus was on the Allegheny County Department of Human Services in Pennsylvania, which has demonstrated an outstanding rate of reunification among its families involved with child welfare. The NFPN has studied Allegheny County's of system of intensive reunification and identified evidence-based practices and programs found to be effective. These include frequent case conferences and court reviews, as well as ambitious timeframes and celebrations of reunifications.

During the teleconference, NFPN representatives also discussed the work of Dr. Ray Kirk, who developed the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale for Reunification. Dr. Kirk subsequently recommended a three-stage model for reunification.

NFPN is currently conducting a study on intensive reunification cases to determine if outcomes for intensive reunification programs differ from those for intensive preservation. The factors of race, type of referring problem, substance abuse, and stepdown services will also be looked at in reunification cases. Findings from these and previous studies will be used to develop a model for reunification.

These projects were discussed as part of a May 30 teleconference sponsored by the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning and the Child Welfare League of America.

For more information on any of these projects, visit the NFPN website: