Journal Article

Reuniting Children with their Families: Reconsidering the Evidence on Timing, Contact and Outcomes

Nina Biehal

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 37, issue 5, pages 807-823
Published in print July 2007 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online June 2006 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcl051
Reuniting Children with their Families: Reconsidering the Evidence on Timing, Contact and Outcomes

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This paper discusses key issues emerging from a review of the literature on reuniting children in public care with their families, examining the basis for common assumptions about reunification. It focuses on three important issues: the evidence on the timing of discharge, the evidence on parental contact and the view that reunion is necessarily a positive outcome for children. Reviewing the research on the links between time in care and the probability of reunification, it argues that this research evidence has sometimes been misinterpreted. This has also been the case in relation to studies of the links between contact and reunification. The paper then presents the limited evidence on the outcomes of reunification, including evidence on re-entry, re-abuse and psychosocial outcomes, arguing that such evidence as exists clearly indicates a need for caution when returning abused or neglected children to their families. It is argued that greater attention to assessment, planning and follow-up support is needed if children are to be successfully reunited with their families and that more research is needed into the outcomes of reunification.

Keywords: reunification; contact; outcomes; re-entry; abuse

Journal Article.  7831 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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