Children have been removed from their parentsâ€™ home by child protective services. The children have been placed either in a licensed foster home or with an approved relative for temporary care. Unless the children were removed for extreme reasons, the original permanency goal of foster care is usually reunification with the birth family. Within a couple of weeks after the children are removed, the parents will meet with the foster care worker who has been newly assigned to their case. The foster care worker will review the reasons that the children were removed from the home and discuss it with the parents. Based on the reasons the children were removed, the worker will establish a plan for the parents to follow so the children can be returned home. This plan is called the parentsâ€™ reunification goals. Each parent will have his or her own set of reunification goals.
The reason each parent has separate reunification goals is that their issues may not be the same. For example, one parent may struggle with drugs or alcohol abuse, while another parent may not use either one. If the worker is aware of a substance abuse issue, then the parent with the substance issue will have several reunification goals concerning just that. The parent will probably have random urine tests assigned. The results of the random tests will be reported to the court every 90 days at the review hearings. The parent will probably be required to attend weekly AA or substance abuse meetings.
Most parents are asked to participate in a session of weekly parenting classes that may last around 10 weeks. The parents are expected to pass the sessions or they may be asked to repeat them. The foster care worker may expect the parents to demonstrate techniques learned in weekly classes during supervised visitation with their children.
Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the parents will be expected to visit with their children for at least one hour a week. Chances are a foster care worker will supervise the visits to ensure the childrenâ€™s safety and the parentsâ€™ conduct. If the parents are not living together then they will probably have separate visit times.
Here are some other common goals for parents. They may be asked to participate in individual therapy sessions with an approved therapist. Find or maintain appropriate housing, employment, and childcare. They may be asked to submit paycheck stubs, receipts for paid bills such as rent and electricity for several months. These goals are to convince the court that the parents are able to provide for the children, long-term. These goals are reviewed and updated every 90 days in the updated service plan and reviewed by the court.
Photo Credit Julia fuller 2008