Reunification is at the centre of meaningful child welfare practice. Whilst child protection systems are concerned with removal of children from their families in the interests of safety, the capacity of child welfare systems to return children safely to their families of origin is also considered to be of central importance. When placement in care is needed the goal is to reduce the length of separation between parent and child, and to maximise the prospects of reunification of children with their parents or kin whenever it is safe to do so.
However the extended periods of time in care can lead to loss of family connections and a sense of identity, and difficulties in transitioning out of care. For those experiencing multiple placements there is evidence of later difficulties in forming attachments with adults and of developing long term emotional and behavioural problems. We had the same challenges when we did reunification for our scholars too.
Reunification it is a process. It took us time to manage it to some of our scholars. Sometimes they had to spend sometime with the foster/alternative care and sometimes with the family during school break. We provide them with counseling together with the family. We also engage the office of the social welfare on the area were the child come from. Major issues that lead us to look for alternative care for our scholars was child headed family, guardian who are always drunk could not provide for the family, Vulnerability at household level, some we found them in alternative care after death of the mother during delivery.
Currently TFFT we manage to reunite six scholars in the program. These scholars are now with their families. Some reunification process can be challenging for the scholar to cope with in a short time. You find scholars going back where they used to be fostered. In this transition period we share with them on importance of them being attached with their blood relatives.
Before the reunification process we assess areas that forced us to think that the child need foster care and plan for intervention while the child is in school already since most of our scholars are in boarding school. One of the biggest challenge we had is when scholars goes back home during break. Some families could not afford three meals per day and the scholar is already used of three meals per day at school. Therefore we started by providing them with food staff while at home during break. But as scholars increase in numbers we found that it will be very difficult to provide food staff for every scholar during holiday break, then we created a program of livelihood strengthening for the parents and guardians.
This program help the families to cuter for the needs of the family through income generating project they start with the seed money from TFFT. Through this we manage to support scholars in their homes and less number of scholars were to be sent to foster care for other issues and not because the family could not provide basic needs for them.
For smooth reunification process we always provide training for the guardians and fosters on positive parenting too. This help parents who just reunified with kids that were not on their care before to learn their behavior and we work together whenever they had challenges in parenting. In the training together with other section we cover issues of child rights and child protection and also stages of child development and how children behave in different stages.