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Reunification and Kinship Care

About half of the children who left foster care in 2012 went home to their birth parents. More than a quarter of all children currently in foster care live with relatives.

When children must be removed from their families because of abuse or neglect, usually the best foster placement is one that is familiar to the child — often that is with relatives or family friends. It is estimated that approximately 108,000 children in foster care are living with relatives.

But too often child welfare systems fail to support kinship caregivers, who tend to have limited incomes and are in need of additional services to adequately care for their young relative.

Additionally when children must be removed from their families because of abuse or neglect, the most desirable outcome usually is for their families to be safely reunified if their problems can be resolved. Fifty-one percent, or 122,173, of the children who left foster care in 2012 were reunified with their parents.

Birth parents also need significant support to strengthen their families and successfully regain custody of their children. Dysfunctional child welfare systems too often fail to provide parents with enough visitation with their children while they are in foster care and often don’t give families a great enough voice in the decisions being made about their kids.

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