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National Reunification Month - Supporting Reunification

Jun 12

Written by:
6/12/2019 3:28 PM  RssIcon

As you may have heard, June is National Reunification Month (NRM). Foster parents take on a unique role when they open their hearts and homes to foster children. One of those reasons being while they are meant to be a parental figure to children in foster care, they are also encouraged to be an advocate to the biological parents of the foster children. By establishing a relationship of trust and respect with biological parents, foster parents help to bridge the gap of uncertainty for foster children and their parents. To encourage foster parents and potential foster parents this NRM, we have compiled a list of many helpful tips from seasoned foster parents provided by multiple trustworthy resources about how to build healthy relationships with biological parents.

  • Express genuine concern 
  • Be honest with birth parents 
  • Let the family know that your goal is to help them get their children back 
  • Understand how scared they are and try to alleviate it 
  • Refer to birth parents using parental terms such as “Mom” or “Dad” when with their children and ask your foster kids to call you by another name 
  • Believe people can change 
  • Assume that things will go well 
  • Understand that the families often have different life experience than you 
  • Look for ways to break down barriers 
  • See birth parents as people and help them as people 
  • Look for positives 
  • Act as a support for family
  • Advocating for increased visitation whenever safe 
  • Encouraging children to have phone calls with family, especially during the week and multiple times per week 
  • Helping children video chat with their birth parents and family members 
  • Inviting families to community events for visitation where the birth parents and children can act like a family and do activities when it is safe to do so 
  • Transporting the parents or children to visitation when possible or safe to do so 
  • Sending children with everything they might need on a visit such as games, snacks, and activities they can do with their parents; meeting spots can be boring
  • Ask parents about life before and the history of the children 
  • Involve parents or other family members in school functions/meetings 
  • Stay in constant contact; tell them it’s ok to call any time 
  • Send pictures, photos, art projects, grades, etc. with the children to visits 
  • Have as many early conversations with parents as possible 
  • Transport kids to visits rather than using transporters if you are able 
  • Show an interest, not just in the child, but in the family as a whole 
  • Go to doctor appointments and other meetings together 
  • Include birth parents in decisions 
  • Reunification is the first and best option 
  • It is comforting for the kids to know that the foster parents understand that the kids want to be with their birth parents 
  • Foster families need to try to get children back where they belong, with their families 
  • Supporting reunification is a must 
  • Foster families should have a deep, strong belief that families should be together 
  • Family units are important; parents should have their children when at all possible 
  • Agencies and foster families need to prioritize reunification over adoption when possible 
  • Foster parents need to be on board with reunification from the beginning 
  • As long as the family is trying, it’s always better to focus on reunification
  • Remember it’s not all about the foster parent, it’s about the child’s best interest
  • Everyone needs some training about reunification 

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