Faculty Publications

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Publication Date

January 2012

Publication Title

Children and Youth Services Review



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Social Work


Only about half of parents attempting to reunify with their children in foster care succeed in their efforts. Parents are ordered by the court to use treatment services in order to resolve their problems. These treatment services thus play a critical role in reunification, and in fact the use of services appropriately matched to parents' problems has been found to be associated with a greater likelihood of reunification. However, there is little in the literature regarding the specific requirements of reunification case plans, and whether they are accurately targeted at reunifying parents' problems. This mostly descriptive study uses case file data to examine the relationship between parental problems and case plan requirements for a sample of parents reunifying with their children in one large urban California county. Findings show that most reunifying parents had multiple problems, and were required to attend approximately 8 service events per week. There was a positive correlation between the total number of concerns (treatment problems and life challenges) and required weekly service events. While 85% of parents were ordered treatment services for all their identified problems, over 30% were ordered services targeting problems they were not known to have. Overall, 58% of parents were ordered both all appropriate and only appropriate services. Implications for policy and practice are discussed, including the need for models of service delivery that limit the burden of accessing multiple service locations for reunifying parents.


NOTICE: this is the author’s pre-print of a work that was accepted for publication in Children and Youth Services Review. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Children and Youth Services Review, VOL 34, ISSUE 10, (2012), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.07.008.

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