June 2023Vol. 24, No. 5Supporting Reunification as a Foster Parent
It is important that foster parents are supportive of reunification, especially since most children and youth who experience foster care eventually reunify with their families. A new AdoptUSKids blog post addresses this topic to help foster parents understand and support reunification efforts for the well-being of the children or youth in their care.
Many of the strategies presented in the post involve partnering with the child’s birth family, which has multiple benefits, including increasing the likelihood of reunification, improving the child’s comfort with their foster family, and reducing trauma when the child returns home to their birth family.
The post suggests that foster parents assess their ideas about birth families, which could contribute to implicit bias and serve as a roadblock to reunification. In addition to self-evaluating for preconceived notions, foster families should consciously make efforts to support visits with family. Court-ordered visits are important, and if a foster family does not treat the visits as such—or expresses a lack of support or hurtful sentiments toward the family—they could cause additional trauma for the child.
Other supportive strategies that foster families can use may provide continuity and comfort for the children in their care. For example, involving birth parents in decision-making can help ensure that children are exposed to familiar experiences, clothing, foods, and so forth, which can make reunification less jarring. Another practice that can provide continuity is creating a “life book” where children can track positive memories throughout their life with both their birth family and foster family.
More strategies and information are available in the blog post "How Foster Parents Can Support Reunification."