Relationship of services and family reunification in New Jersey
Blanchard, Cynthia J.
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The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 mandated that reasonable efforts be made to return children from foster care to their own families, meaning that services must be provided to families to remedy the situation which led to a child's placement in foster care. With the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, the time frame for terminating parenting rights have been shortened. Therefore, it is now even more important to know whether the services being provided are making a difference in reaching the goal of family reunification.;This study examined the relationship between the services provided to families of children in foster care and family reunification. It was a retrospective longitudinal study of a cohort of 100 children who entered foster care through a public child welfare agency in 1994. Poverty, ethnicity, length of time in care, reason for the child's removal from the home, and the emotional and physical health of the child have previously been shown to be related to family reunification and these variables were included in this study. The data were gathered through case record reviews and analyzed using chi-square test and logistic regression.;The findings showed that in-patient drug treatment, parenting skills training, and child psychotherapy were statistically significant in their relationship to family reunification. A negative relationship between substance abuse evaluations and family reunification was found. Direct services provided by child welfare caseworkers were not significantly related to family reunification. A majority of the population studied was found to be poor and minorities. Over 35 percent of children left foster care within the first month of placement and over 60 percent left within the first six months of placement.;These findings indicate the need for more effective substance abuse programs and for more research on the factors involved in short stays in foster care. Implications for policy, research, and social work education are discussed.