March 2014Vol. 15, No. 3Reunification: The First Permanency Outcome
In 2012, 51 percent of the children who left foster care in the United States were reunited with their parents or primary caregiver. States also reported in 2012 that 53 percent of children in foster care had a case plan goal of reunification. Despite the preference for reunification, this permanency outcome is the only one not eligible for ongoing Federal funding support under title IV-E, requiring States to patch together services and funding for such services. An issue brief from the State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center (SPARC) and First Focus reviews efforts to reunite children and families, funding available for reunification efforts, and promising practices for supporting reunification.
For many families, the issues that caused a child to enter out-of-home care may not have been completely addressed by the time reunification occurs, and reunification services, when available, may provide needed support. The issue brief notes that continued research is needed on reunification services, which families would benefit from such services, and the types of services needed. The authors also note that while some limited block grant funds are provided for reunification services, time limitations on services make it difficult to fund services that follow the child home.
The report discusses the challenges of reunification, such as limited resources and the complex needs of families seeking services, and promising State approaches, including a chart of State spending on reunification services through title IV-B programs.
Reunification of Foster Children With Their Families: The First Permanency Outcome is available on the SPARC website: