10 Ways Foster Parents Can Support Reunification

From the Summer 2015 Fostering Across Wisconsin Newsletter

  1. Build a relationship with the child’s biological parents while the child is in your care. Having a strong relationship during care encourages the family to reach out to you for support post-reunification. Because you are someone who is already familiar with and to the child and the family, you can be a source of comfort, support, and encouragement. Talk with your worker about this to see if it may be appropriate after reunification.
  2. Help the child prepare for reunification and understand the situation. Talk with the child about the process and help ease any fears and anxieties she might have.
  3. Talk with other foster parents who have supported reunification for children in their care. They’ll have a personal perspective to share and can help you to cope with the loss you may experience if/when a child is reunified and no longer in your care.
  4. Create a life book with the child as a way for him to explore his out-of-home care experiences, identity, cherished 10 Ways Foster Parents Can Support Reunificationmemories, important people who have influenced his life, achievements, losses, and important highlights he may want to communicate with his biological family, and others who have made an impact on his life.
  5. Talk with your worker about any extended family members who you might contact. Keeping those relation-ships open can encourage those family members to keep in touch and can also help you get to know more about the child in your care, too.
  6. When possible, provide transportation to and from family visits as a means to connect with the child’s family. This may not be required of you, but if you are able to manage it, you might find that it’s a good way to build a mutually trusting relationship.
  7. Empathize. Try to gain an empathetic understanding of how the family’s situation came to be. There may be complex intergenerational layers of personal and social issues that, if given the parenting tools and techniques, a parent can work towards creating a safe and nurturing home and family for the child in your care to return to.
  8. Document everything! As rigid as it may seem some-times, the record you can provide of the time a child is in your care can be helpful to his or her family of origin, caseworkers, and the child in the near or far future.
  9. Take a step back. If you feel in conflict with the child’s family or treatment team’s decisions about reunifica-tion, pause and try to focus on the progress his family has made. Ask the child’s worker to help you under-stand the case plan and permanency goals if you have questions.
  10. Call us! We’re here to provide resources and support so that you can provide what may be helpful for the child you care for. We’re here for you every step of the way.

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