All families go through tough times. When parents face adversity and toxic stress due to traumatic experiences, poverty, untreated mental health needs and lack of a support network, they may be unable to care for their children. In some cases, a court decision is made to remove the children from the home and place them with a relative, familiar caregiver or foster family while they receive support from caring professionals.
What is National Family Reunification Month?
June is National Family Reunification Month, and KVC Health Systems and its local teams celebrate those families that have worked hard to overcome obstacles, resolve conflicts and learn healthy skills in order for their children to safely return home from foster care. We also recognize the child welfare and mental health professionals, including hundreds of people who are part of the KVC team in five states, who support families in the process to safely reunify.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway shared that this year’s theme is exploring foster care as a support to families, rather than a substitute for parents. While foster care and adoption are often needed, the first goal of child welfare is safely preventing foster care or reunifying families — in other words, keeping kids in their own families whenever safely possible.
How You Can Help Families Working Toward Reunification
If you care about families in your community who face serious challenges, we invite you to show your support during June and all year long. Relatives, neighbors, friends and community members can help families tremendously in these ways:
- Offer transportation to visitations, court hearings, mental health appointments, etc.
- Provide snacks and activities for birth parents to take to visits
- Offer to prepare a meal for the family
- Provide mentoring and simply serve as a friend
- Offer words of encouragement or lend a listening ear
- Allow the parent(s) to feel connected through community gatherings to let them know they are not alone
- Become a foster parent to provide direct support to children and families who are experiencing foster care
- When a family is able to bring their children safely home from foster care, celebrate the family with a “welcome home” basket, meal or gathering.
KVC Focuses on Keeping Kids in Families
Last year, KVC strengthened 7,036 families involved in the child welfare system with in-home therapy and skill-building, care coordination and other critical support. Of those:
- 6,429 families (with 12,233 children!) received family preservation services to safely prevent the need for foster care
- 607 families were able to safely bring their children home from foster care.
Nationally, about half of children (49%) who leave foster care each year are safely reunited with their birth families. It is our goal to help children achieve a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible when reunification can occur. If reintegration with the child’s birth family is not possible, we then seek a loving adoptive family.
Read Some Heartwarming Family Reunification Stories
Check out some of the successful family reunification stories we have been honored to be a part of:
- Ex-Marine Dad and Stigmatized Mom Learn Parenting Skills
- Single Father Works Hard to Safely Reunite Family [VIDEO]
- Mom and Mexican-American Teen with Autism Rebuild Their Relationship
- Overcoming Challenges, Parents Work to Reunify with Children after Foster Care
- Single Mom Gains Confidence, Learns Healthy Skills to Safely Reunite Family [VIDEO]
- Boy with Autism Reconnects with Father
You can also read about our unique group called Engaging Parents/Developing Leaders in which we listen to and act on feedback from parents involved in child welfare services.
On June 15, our KVC Kansas team is hosting a unique event in Olathe, KS called the Parent Expo. This event is designed for families who may benefit from social services and community resources. Families who attend will learn about the child welfare system so they can advocate for their family’s needs, connect with community resources and learn about access to health care. They’ll also receive tips on resume writing, interviewing for jobs, budgeting, parenting and peer-to-peer support. Lunch is provided. We’ll be featuring a bounce house and other kids’ activities. More information here.
Learn more about our in-home family services which include family preservation, family reunification, family therapy, skill-building and more. If you want to directly support families facing serious challenges, consider joining the KVC team! We’re hiring for critical roles serving children and families in Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska and West Virginia.