Welcome back, and thanks for joining us for a look at the wonderful work done by Michigan’s Reunification Program. As we mentioned in the previous article, the program is recognized on a national level, and sets the standard for family reunification around the country. However just because what they do is life-changing for so many families, doesn’t mean it’s very challenging work. Because it is. Which is what we wanted to discuss in this article.
It’s already been recognized by legislators, that reunifying families safely reduces the stress on the foster-care system, uses fewer state resources, and reduces the chances for future CPS encounters. And not to mention – it’s ultimately better for the children and the parents involved. But “good” is not the same as “easy.” There are major obstacles that have to be overcome in order to achieve a successful reunification. Let’s take a look…
What challenges do newly reunified families face?
As we noted before, when a family comes back together after a period of separation, everyone involved has changed. The parents are trying harder, which means more rules, more boundaries, enforced consequences. The children are suffering from the trauma of lengthy separation, which often means clinginess, attention-seeking behaviors, and boundary pushing. All in all, it’s a very volatile situation.
Add to that the stressors that put that family at risk to begin with. Poverty, unstable living conditions, neighborhood violence, substance abuse, domestic abuse, and many other factors can all contribute to a family’s vulnerability. Just because a family has been reunified, doesn’t mean the factors that caused the initial separation aren’t in play anymore. Factors like poverty, neighborhood violence, and trauma could still be very real parts of daily life.
So what happens when a family gets reunified?
A newly reunified family is particularly vulnerable. This is where the “miracle question” comes in. The question that asks parents what they need to succeed. It’s such a simple question, and yet most programs working with families don’t ask. CPS workers are good at deciding what a family needs on their behalf, but they never actually ask the family what they think they need. Which is odd, because no one has a better idea of what struggles they face than the parents themselves.
By finding out exactly what the family needs, the agency can help them address stressors and other issues that may be triggers in the future. Because reducing triggers reduces the family’s chance of failure. Another thing the agency does well, is discuss with parents what they do well, and what areas they struggle with. This way each family worker gets a personalized perspective of what that parent has already conquered, and what areas they need help with. This could include things like anger management, substance abuse, or communication issues.
Successfully reunified families hardly ever encounter CPS again!
One of the hallmarks of a successful system is little to no contact with CPS after reunification. Which makes Michigan’s reunification program one of the most successful in the nation! Eighty-five percent of families who went through the program for at least four months, stayed together, and did not have another CPS report or removal. When you stop to think about what that means in the long-term, it’s actually incredible!
Reunification is challenging, but it happens here in Michigan. And it’s happening more and more with each passing year! If you or a loved one have been accused of child abuse or neglect, and CPS is threatening to take your children away, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. Our skilled CPS Defense Attorneys are standing by 24/7 to help you protect your children and keep your family safe!