Wednesday, Jun 3, 2020
June is National Reunification Month. A month dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of keeping families involved in the child welfare system together, and recognizing how the community can better support these families.
When a family becomes involved with the child welfare system, the first priority of the Department of Human Services and CASA for Children is to help reunite children with their parents whenever safe and possible. During this month and beyond, CASA volunteers strive to engage and connect with the families they serve so that they have the support and resources needed to have their children safely come back home.
Some people believe that once a child is removed from their home and placed into foster care, no further help for them is needed. The reality, though, is that foster care is not meant to be a permanent solution. Most kids in foster care experience a sense of grief and loss after being removed from their home, regardless of what the situation was like.
CASA recruits and trains volunteer advocates to stay by a child's side throughout their time in foster care, advocating first for reunification when safe and possible. These volunteers get to know the children, parents, and family as well as others involved in their lives - including foster parents, therapists, teachers and attorneys - collaborating with everyone to put family reunification as the first priority whenever it is safe and possible.
We know the vast majority of parents love their children and want what is best for them, and the parents of the children served by CASA are no exception. We want to support parents during their involvement with the child welfare system so that they have the tools and resources needed to allow their children to come home and live with them safely.
Many times, parents involved with the foster care system struggle to access the resources, support, and education they need to be able to complete services ordered by the judge. This issue has been especially glaring in the era of COVID-19.
Everyone has been affected by the virus, but things like physical distancing, food and supply shortages, and the increased need to rely on technology and internet access have been weighing even more heavily on the families served by CASA. Our CASA volunteers can make a monumental difference by helping bridge the access gap and connecting families to services and support, during this time and beyond.
CASA volunteers also make sure the children and parents have a support system of family and other caring adults who are able to help in whatever way is needed, and stay involved long after CASA and DHS involvement ends.
If parents and children have a good support system, it's more likely that a plan for reunification will be successful and sustainable.