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June 2024Vol. 25, No. 5The ABCs of Reunification

Written by Jennifer Lee, Children’s Bureau National Foster Care Specialist

Remember when understanding something was as simple as ABC? As children, the way we learn about and understand the world starts with grasping the ABCs. What if we took those lessons out of the traditional classroom and applied them to child welfare? Reunification is one of the foundational goals of child welfare practice—to bring families back together. During National Reunification Month this June, let’s look at the importance of reunification through the lens of the ABCs by Acknowledging that all families deserve an opportunity for reunification, Believing that families can achieve this goal, and Committing to a culturally responsive approach to reunification.

A - Acknowledge: All families deserve an opportunity to reunify, regardless of their past challenges or circumstances. Acknowledging this fundamental principle of equitability is essential in the reunification process. It requires recognizing that every family has inherent worth and dignity, and that reunification is a right that should be afforded to all families. By acknowledging this truth, we affirm our commitment to fairness and justice in the child welfare system.

B - Believe: Believe that all families have functional strengths for the reunification journey. Hope is the cornerstone of reunification, and believing in the potential of families to overcome obstacles and thrive is paramount. It involves recognizing and amplifying families' voices, strengths, and resources. Belief is contagious. When we nurture a culture of hope and optimism, we help families envision a future where they can reunify and flourish together.

C - Commit: Commit to a culturally responsive approach to reunification. As child welfare professionals, our commitment goes beyond cultural awareness to celebrating the intersecting identities that shape each family. We recognize that race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression affect an individual’s worldview, experiences, and relationships. By committing to a culturally responsive approach that prioritizes family ties and kin, we acknowledge the systemic inequities and biases that affect underserved communities and work toward dismantling them.

Think about the opportunities you have to Acknowledge, Believe, and Commit during June and beyond. Grounded in the simplicity of the ABCs is the absolute ability to transform lives and create an environment where every child, youth, and young adult is nurtured and encouraged to thrive within their family and community.