These Are the Steps to ReunificationRich Stigall
The world of family collapse is messy.
The moments and circumstances that result in child placement in the foster care system are messy. These are known and understood. However, the complexities to emerge out of the system also pose significant hurdles for a family trying to reintegrate children back into a home.
CarePortal recently received a request that highlights the process of reunification. The biological mother longs to reunite with her biological children, but there are steps in the process of reunification. The case worker noted the following regarding this need:
Natural Mom is currently participating in a DHS case with the case plan goal of reunification. At the previous court hearing, Natural Mom was ordered to have a hair follicle drug test. If the test comes back clean, her case can move forward and she will begin unsupervised and eventually overnight visitation(s) with her child. These are the steps prior to starting trial reunification. Natural Mom cannot afford to pay for the test at this time. She is currently living in Section-8 housing and recently began working a part time, minimum wage job at a local fast food restaurant. DHS worker spoke with Specialized Outpatient Services staff who reported the cost of the 5 panel hair follicle test is $110. The test results will be in 5-7 business days of the sample being taken.
These are the steps to reunification. In our haste, we’d like to snap our fingers and POOF! REUNIFICATION! Rather, in their conservatorship, child welfare agencies must balance the circumstances of each case to determine the appropriate course of action. For a mother who has a historical pattern of drug use, a drug test is a step in the process to demonstrate that circumstances leading into child placement have been overcome. For many, these steps of reunification are incredibly expensive, resulting in a lengthening of time that a child stays in the foster care system as the parent attempts to identify resources.
This request also highlights the importance of Foster Care: Tier 2 requests. Pure and simple, this mother is in need of relationship. She is in need of a church family to wrap its arms around her and provide a voice of encouragement and accountability. The relational gap cannot be overlooked, for isolation on the road to reunification can lead to discouragement, loneliness, and, for many, into the same snares that led to child placement.
We’re grateful that Council Road Baptist Church in Oklahoma was able to meet this need! If this need is not met, the child may continue to linger in the foster care system, and the biological mother will continue on a desperate path for resource discovery. We pray that the mother will discover a loving, grace-filled church that will encourage her on her road to reunification. We also pray for the child, hopeful that members of the body are meeting their needs.
If you would like more information on how your church can prepare to meet Tier 2 needs, please contact us.