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May 2020Vol. 21, No. 4Equipping Foster Parents to Actively Support Reunification

AdoptUSKids released the publication Equipping Foster Parents to Actively Support Reunification (PDF -158 KB) to help policymakers assess child welfare systems' ability to create an environment that supports foster parents' role in reunification and what steps they can take to reach that goal. It explains the positive impact a supportive foster family has on the child and their birth family—such as developing a positive connection between birth and foster families—as well as how child welfare workers can prepare foster families.

It includes the following nine tips for building practices and implementing policies that reinforce and develop partnerships between birth and foster families:

  • Use consistent messaging in family recruitment, response, engagement, and orientation to convey the temporary nature of foster care and the role foster parents play.
  • Encourage positive attitudes toward birth families during interactions with foster parents.
  • Ensure training includes skills that foster parents need to support reunification.
  • Incorporate birth parents and youth into the training curriculum.
  • Provide opportunities for peer support from foster parents who have experience actively supporting reunification.
  • Provide clear guidance and support on birth family contact and visitation.
  • Offer enhanced support during periods of transition and loss.
  • Incorporate feedback and data analysis to improve services.
  • Give special consideration to kinship caregivers.

It also features two examples from the field: one showcases the benefit of shaping foster families' interactions with and view of early reunification with training and peer support and another describes helping foster parents with their own grief and loss.