When the recommendation of the FST is return of the child to the birth parent(s), steps should be taken to prepare the child for this move. The amount and kind of preparation necessary will vary according to the child’s age, length of time in out-of-home care and relationship with the birth parent(s) and resource provider. The resource provider shall be involved in, and aware of, the plans to return the child to the birth parent(s). The resource provider will need to take appropriate steps to prepare the child for separation. The positive attitude of the resource provider toward the return of the child to the birth parent(s) will influence the child’s view of return.
The following steps should be taken by the Children’s Service Worker, resource provider, and parents in preparing the child for reunification with his/her family:
- Privately discuss with the child their feelings regarding reunification with the parent. Address fears, anxiety, expectations, responsibilities and safeguards that ensure the child’s safety. The Children’s Service Worker should recognize that the child may feel more comfortable discussing reunification issues with the current resource provider. Conversely, the child may experience feelings of disloyalty to the resource provider for wanting to return home. Also, the child may experience feelings of disloyalty to parents demonstrated by new acting out behavior.
- The child’s visits with the parent(s) should become more frequent and longer in duration with increasing child care responsibility given to the parent. When the child will be with the parent for a week or longer, the Children’s Service Worker should make at least one home visit with the family during the extended visit to assure safety and provide support to the family.
- Provide opportunity for the parents, child, resource provider, and Children’s Service Worker to identify and resolve problems which occur during visits.
- The resource provider shall assist the child in making the transition to the birth family.
- The Children’s Service Worker and the resource provider should review the child’s life book with the child and biological parent during the transition phase of reunification.