June 22, 2023

National Reunification Month: June 2023

Reunification is the ultimate goal for most families who have children that enter the foster care system.  However, in the case of many families, reunification is not always easily attainable.

Disparities in the Child Welfare System

This year, the Congressional Black Caucus issued a special order highlighting the importance of national reunification month. Unfortunately, Black Americans are often unfairly affected by the needless separation of their children and their placement in the child welfare system.

One Family’s Story:

Last year, CCA Attorney Stacy Schleif worked as an advocate for a family whose 2-year-old child was taken into foster care. The parents had negative experiences with the system in the past, causing them to be distrustful of others. As a result, they declined to accept court-appointed attorneys. Stacy built a strong and trustworthy relationship with the family and went above and beyond to help them find attorneys who they could trust and feel comfortable with. Throughout the child’s time in foster care, Stacy made sure that the family had regular visits and advocated for the child’s right to a fair chance at reunification.

Despite the Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) attempt to shift the goal towards adoption, Stacy firmly urged DCF to avoid conflating their personal dislike for the parents’ personalities with a fair evaluation of their parenting capabilities. They eventually went to trial, and despite initial obstacles, Stacy continued to advocate for reunification, as the child was very attached to her parents, and they had similarly demonstrated their commitment to their child.

After DCF was unable to demonstrate efforts to engage the parents, the parties reached an agreement mid-trial, and the child was returned home after almost a year in foster care. Post-reunification, Stacy maintained her relationship with the family and visited the child and a newborn sibling at home during the six months of protective supervision that followed. The case was ultimately dismissed shortly after the child’s fourth birthday.

Learn more about the Center for Children’s Advocacy’s Child Welfare Project.

“Through my representation of the child, I am grateful to have gained the trust of the parents and helped them achieve a positive outcome for their child.” – Stacy Schleif

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