The foster care reunification process is inevitably the end goal for many children in care.
However, this isn’t always the easiest process to deal with – from both the child’s perspective, and the perspective of the foster family. As a foster carer, showing your support for the reunification of children and their biological parents is vital to ensure a transition which is as smooth as possible. Learn tips on how to support the child reunification process now.
What is reunification in foster care?
Reunification is the reunion of children in foster care returning to live with their birth parents or guardians. This is usually the end goal for most children in foster care – and the parent and child reunification plan will likely have been worked towards throughout the entire time the child has been in care.
How to support reunification
As a foster parent or family, it can be hard when reunification gets closer. It’s likely you’ll have built up bonds with the young person or child you’re fostering, as they may have with your own children, too. But as a foster carer, it’s important to show you support reunification. Some of the best ways to do this can include:
- Speaking positively about the foster child’s family –it’s important to focus on the positives when speaking about the foster child’s family. Not only will this help strengthen the bond between the child or young person and their family, but it will also help support the eventual child reunification process.
- Do not sabotage – tying in with the above point, focussing on the positives is imperative when supporting reunification. Understandably, you may be anxious and worried about the biological family – and these concerns can be reported to the care team. But simple things like ensuring you’re on time for appointments or offering support and advice where possible shows that you’re all on the same team – and you all want what is best for the foster child.
- Build relationships with the biological parents, if possible – creating a relationship with the family can be a great way to show you support reunification. Examples could be offering to help with transportation to their visits, sending them updates about the children or sharing drawings or art projects with them. Simple touches like this can really help to strengthen your relationship.
- Sharing your knowledge – there may be the chance for you to share your insights with either the foster care team or the biological family themselves. Sharing parenting strategies or how you’ve successfully managed behaviour is a great way to support reunification – as this provides the birth parents with knowledge and insight on how to handle situations when their child has returned home.
- Prepare yourself for this to be difficult – most importantly, acknowledge the effect this will have on you and your fostering family. It’s okay to find this difficult – the prospect of returning a child to their home after they’ve become part of your own family is a hard pill to swallow. But you are involved in a community that helps to protect neglected and abused children – and the work that foster carers do is so important in making a difference to young people’s lives.
Support for foster care reunification process
One of the main objections for fostering is the prospect of reunification. It’s common to hear many people say, “I would love to be a foster carer, but I couldn’t give back the child…”. However, it’s important to emphasise the massive effect you will have on a young person’s life.
Here at Capstone Foster Care, we offer full support for the parent and child reunification process – right from the beginning of your foster care placement. It’s embedded into your work that as a foster parent, you are helping a child to be able to go back home – and the likelihood that this child will stay with you as their forever home is often slim.
But that doesn’t mean that you’re forgotten about. The importance of work that foster carers do to facilitate reunification is imperative – and we offer a wide support network such as therapists for foster carers, and access to foster carers who’ve experienced this before. There’s often a preconception that when the foster children are taken away from the foster families it’s all negative. Yet, with the right support and the right foster care team behind you, expectations are managed from the start – and reconciliation between foster child and biological family can be extremely rewarding to see.
Interested in becoming a foster carer yourself? Or need more information on reunification? Get in touch with a member of our helpful team for more support and advice.