June is National Reunification Month

EARLY YEARS: HopeTree Family Services offers continuing support for biological parents trying to get their kids back home
Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 4:49 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - “When a child first comes into foster care, every foster parent wants those children to go home, and they want to help the parents achieve that goal,” says Jamie Bowers, a Family Support Specialist with HopeTree Family Services.

Sadly, it’s not always achievable.

“The largest thing that we look at when we return a child home is obviously, the safety and security of the home and where the parents are at to provide for the child’s needs,” says Bowers.

Bowers says the rate of reunification at HopeTree is fairly low.

She says about 65 percent of HopeTree’s foster kids end up being adopted instead.

“In my personal experience at HopeTree, I’ve not had any of my kids in foster care return to their parents,” says Bowers.

That’s what led to the development of Family Support Services.

It offers help with parenting skills, in hopes of increasing reunification.

“When we are working with a family, we’re teaching those skills, as in parenting skills and the discipline and structure that they can have in the home.”

Whenever a foster child is reunited with his or her biological family, HopeTree offers support like individualized coaching, therapeutic visits for children and their families, along with supervised visits in an on-site setting or in the community.

Once a family is back together, the goal is to keep them together.

Having to remove a child again can cause lasting damage.

“That can be very difficult on the child, because it’s re-tramautizing from the first time, and the security that they had being at home, or even in a foster home, is gone,” says Bowers.

But with a willingness to improve their skills and home setting, parents can help their children heal those emotional wounds.

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