After I wrote my last post about concerns and the prediction I have about my foster children coming back into care if they are placed back with their mother, I Googled "Reunification & Reentry into Foster Care" just for fun and came across three scholarly articles or pieces of information including the following power point presentation:
Although I didn't examine the entire study the statistics were pretty telling to me. I think the most important piece of info or keyword of what birth families need is SUPPORT.
After reading a brief titled "Supporting Reunification and Preventing Reentry Into Out-Of-Home Care" from the Child Welfare Information Gateway I was pleased that strategies and policies are being implemented with child welfare professionals which place an emphasis on post-reunification support and follow-up. To quote one listed objective to prevent reentry: "Ensure an adequate network of support to provide a safety net for parents experiencing stress after reunification and help prevent reentry". YES- So important!
After skimming through a journal article about Family Reunification and searching for specific patterns/predictors and risk factors of reentry ('cause I'm a social science nerd like that) I thought to myself: "Well, there's good news and bad news. The GOOD NEWS is that the data from studies show that there are definite identifiable risk factors for foster children coming back into care after reunification" such as 'parental substance abuse, noncompliance with service plans, problematic parenting skills' as well as "structural factors such as single parenthood and financial or housing difficulties'. (I squirm when I read those risk factors because they accurately describe my foster children's mother and her situation. I know it's not her fault she was born into the kind of family she was born into, but now it is up to her to break some very difficult cycles and how does she do that when it's been the norm for her growing up and she really doesn't know any differently?)
And for the BAD NEWS: I can't help thinking to myself, "Unfortunately, those same risk factors which place children at greater risk for reentry into the foster care system are the exact same reasons they end up in foster care in the first place."