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ERIC Number: ED535117
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 40
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 53
ISSN: ISSN-1097-3125
Parents' Pasts and Families' Futures: Using Family Assessments to Inform Perspectives on Reasonable Efforts and Reunification
Smithgall, Cheryl; DeCoursey, Jan; Yang, Duck-Hye; Haseltine, Lisa
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
Whether parents can overcome the problems that led to abuse and neglect of their children is the essence of questions surrounding efforts to return children to their parents once legal custody of a child has been granted to the child welfare agency. Consistent with a legal and policy framework protecting parental rights in the United States, the threshold for separating a child from his or her parents is set high, and family reunification is the preferred permanency goal for most children who come into the child welfare system. Despite this policy preference, reunification rates are lower than desired and even when reunification does happen, some children experience subsequent placements. The Illinois model of CFA--referred to as an integrated assessment (IA)--is one component of a family-centered, trauma-informed, strengths-based practice model. In this study, assessments conducted as part of the Illinois integrated assessment program allow the authors to look at a subset of parents for whom reunification might seem unlikely given their own personal histories and extensive exposure to trauma. Using a sample of narrative assessment reports drawn from the IAs, they explore the nature and prevalence of traumatic experiences among biological parents whose children were placed in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The relationship between parents' childhood experiences and their current functioning is explored, as are data on reunification outcomes. The findings that a subset of parents involved with the child welfare system have extensive childhood trauma experiences and present with multiple problems or service needs have implications for caseworker engagement as well as interventions. They examine what caseworkers and clinicians see as the initial prognosis for these families as well as the reunification and reentry outcomes after the children entered foster care. The authors hope to encourage dialogue about what policies and practices might need to be developed and implemented in order to improve long-term child and family well-being outcomes for this particular group of families. The study raises fundamental questions about our obligation to and approach to protecting children and to promoting their well-being. (Contains 5 tables and 5 footnotes.)
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. 1313 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637. Tel: 773-753-5900; Fax: 773-753-5940; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Illinois Department of Children and Family Services; Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (DHHS/ACF), Children's Bureau
Authoring Institution: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
Identifiers - Location: Illinois