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June 2021Vol. 22, No. 6Review of Interventions to Reduce Child Welfare Recidivism

An article in Research on Social Work Practice, "Reunifying Successfully: A Systematic Review of Interventions to Reduce Child Welfare Recidivism," discusses a study that sought to address the gaps in the literature on the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing the reentry and rereferral rates of children who have reunified with their families. Many children continue to experience maltreatment after reunification with their family, and approximately 20 percent reenter foster care. Children are at the highest risk of reentry during the first 18 months after reunification, and multiple removals coupled with exposure to maltreatment can increase the risk of negative mental health outcomes. To prevent this, it is important to have better and more coordinated interventions. This study presents findings from examining interventions that target successful reunification.

The study found that there were very few reviews that studied interventions to help prevent reentry and improve outcomes, or promote an understanding of what helps families stay together after reunification. It reviewed and selected studies based on eligibility criteria and measured three reunification child welfare outcomes: reentry, recidivism, and stability after reunification. The study also codified the characteristics of the interventions for comparison. 

Studies that included coordination or partnerships with other systems had higher rates of successful reunification than other groups. There were also positive findings for programs that included working with recovery coaches and other interdisciplinary partnerships. However, none of the selected studies evaluated the same type of intervention or implementation. This, coupled with the small number of studies and the requirement from the Families First Prevention Services Act that child welfare systems should prioritize evidence-based services, shows the need for more research in this area.

To learn more about the study, read the full article, "Reunifying Successfully: A Systematic Review of Interventions to Reduce Child Welfare Recidivism."