It’s National Reunification Month!
Did you know that safely reuniting children with their families is the ultimate the goal of foster care? The reunification of children placed in foster care significantly improves permanency outcomes for children and birth parents because it means that a family is healing, and children won’t have to lose the people they love the most. It means we as a community are strong and resilient and are truly doing our part to help others. It means we are all winners!
In celebration of the extraordinary effort that parents make every day to be reunited with their children, we are sharing 4 resources that can help to support family reunification!
Utilize Support Groups
A critical part of Reunification is creating meaningful partnerships between birth parents and the families caring for their children. Support groups are a great way to have an open and safe conversation about your circumstances. Support group members and facilitators can offer additional support or advice to those who may need it. In Texas, there are plenty of support groups available. These meetings are offered in person and virtually, making it a convenient way to seek extra support during these times. It can be easy to feel alone and overwhelmed during these changes. That’s why it’s important that those going through the reunification process remember that they aren’t alone, and support groups can serve as that reminder. Surrounding yourself with other families who are going through something similar can help put things into perspective as well as help foster a strong support system.
Get Youth Involved in Mentorship Programs
For children going through the reunification process, having people to depend on and learn from is crucial. That’s where mentorship can come in handy. Mentorship can look different for everyone. A mentor can be a camp counselor, a friend, or even a teacher. Having a mentor can provide a sense of stability and accelerate growth for children in the foster care system. Mentorship can help teach children life skills, hobbies, and everyday habits. Here at Partnerships for Children, the Kids in a New Groove (KING) program provides mentorship to central Texas youth through music lessons. This free mentorship program offers children the opportunity to learn a new instrument. Through mentorship, children can foster relationships and build valuable self-confidence.
Take a Parenting Class
Let’s face it. Parenting isn’t an easy task. Parenting classes are a great opportunity for those looking to brush up on their parenting skills. There are a variety of topics that could be covered during these classes. These could include learning how to communicate effectively, healthy habits, and how to deal with misbehavior. Consider taking an online parenting class to learn some additional parenting tips. Parenting isn’t something that can be taught overnight, so it’s important to ensure that parents have access to ample parenting resources. A study by Zero to Three found that 83% of parents from all backgrounds agree that good parenting can be learned. When going through the reunification process, it’s important that parents feel confident about their abilities. Taking a parenting class can give you valuable insight on being the best parent you can be.
Create a Safe Environment
Returning children home often requires intensive, family-centered services to support a safe and stable family including a stable environment. Since the goal of reunification is to have the children return home safely, housing needs to be established. No matter what kind of situation you may find yourself in, resources are available to make sure the transition is as easy as possible for parents and children. Due to increased housing prices, families may find themselves in need of extra help. For families that are renting, the ‘Rainbow Room’ is helping with rental and utility assistance.
Some families may find that they want to start looking for their forever home. Since the home buying process can be confusing, it’s important to do research on the best options for you and your family. For families looking to buy their forever home, start by obtaining a mortgage pre approval. This will allow you to start planning and budgeting for your new family home. Working closely with a real estate agent can help ensure that housing is figured out quickly and thoroughly. The reunification process is all about reuniting child in foster care with their biological family safely and in a timely manner. Making sure that the environment that they’re returning to is set in stone will help create more stability.
Having a safe place for your family will help provide a sense of security. Additionally, to make this easier on the children, consider adding small touches for them around the house. This could include decorating with more family photos or hanging up art projects or school reports. Making sure the children feel welcome and comfortable will make this transition easier. While housing is a big part of creating a safe environment, there are other aspects that go into this process. For example, food and other child care items. As mentioned before, the Rainbow Room is a great resource for families looking for more assistance during these times. Families can ask their CPS caseworker to pick up certain items to help them care for their children. These items could be car seats, clothing, toiletries, and more. Having a safe and secure environment for kids to return to is a huge part of the reunification process. Take advantage of resources to ensure that your family is ready for the next steps.
There’s a lot that goes into reuniting children with their birth parents. This highly rewarding process can be difficult to navigate, but understanding what resources are available will result in a smoother transition for all. Getting involved in support groups and mentorship programs will help provide a sense of belonging for parents and children. Creating a safe home environment will add an extra layer of comfort and security for your family. And lastly, taking parenting classes will boost your confidence as a parent and give you life-long tips to succeed as a family. Family reunification should always be made a priority. Ensuring that families are adequately prepared for this adjustment will result in stronger families overall.