2022 Edition

Family Foster Care and Kinship Care (CA-FKC) 16: Family Reunification

Children and families receive the support and services they need to ease the transition to reunification, stabilize the home, and prevent re-entry into out-of-home care.


COA recognizes that in instances where the court suddenly orders a child home without advance notice, the organization will not be able to fully implement all the practice standards in this section. However, the organization should still try to implement the standards to the extent possible. For example, while the organization may not be able to develop an individualized transition plan prior to reunification as per CA-FKC 16.02, it should collaborate with the family to develop the plan as soon as possible after reunion.
NA The organization does not work with families who will be reunifying.




Children in Family Foster Care and Kinship Care live in safe, stable, nurturing, and often temporary family settings that best provide the continuity of care to preserve relationships, promote well-being, and ensure permanency.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or 
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.      
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Procedures for preparing children, parents, and resource families for reunification
  • Procedures for reunification planning, monitoring, and support, including procedures for referring children and families to post-reunification services
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Parents served
    4. Children served
    5. Resource parents
  • Review case records
  • Review resource parent records


CA-FKC 16.01

In an effort to facilitate a smooth transition to family reunification:
  1. children and parents are involved in making decisions regarding reunification;
  2. children, parents, and resource families are provided with sufficient advance notice that children will return home;
  3. a graduated process for family time enables both children and parents to prepare for reunification; and
  4. collaborating service providers are involved in preparation for reunification and notified when reunification has occurred.
Examples: Procedures regarding the transition to reunification may vary but organizations often utilize a graduated step-down process that includes home visits, extended home visits, and trial discharge.


CA-FKC 16.02

Parents are prepared for the return of their children and the challenges of reunification through support and guidance that help them to:
  1. understand expectations and responsibilities related to their children’s return;
  2. develop strategies for providing appropriate care, managing children’s behaviour, meeting any special needs children may present, and preventing reoccurrence of the safety concerns that led to the separation of the children;
  3. consider how everyday living and family relationships will be impacted by their children’s return;
  4. understand how children may react and behave as they adjust to the return home; and
  5. explore any anxiety, uncertainty, or ambivalence they may feel about responsibilities related to their children’s return.
NA The organization, by virtue of law or contract, does not serve parents.

Examples: In treatment foster care, treatment parents may support reunification by sharing information with birth parents about their child’s treatment progress, and supporting birth parents to develop strategies for managing their child’s conditions and navigating specialized service providers and the school system. 


CA-FKC 16.03

Children receive individualized, age- and developmentally- appropriate support and guidance that helps them explore their feelings about reunification, and prepare for the return home.
Examples: The support and guidance provided may vary in amount or type depending on children’s circumstances, including length of time in out-of-home care. Topics to discuss may include, but are not limited to: the child’s experiences while in out-of-home care, including a review of the child’s life book; the reunification process; expectations for the return home; any protections in place to ensure the child’s safety; any fear or anxiety the child may be experiencing; and coping with any grief or loss the child may experience upon leaving a resource family. While support and guidance may be provided by workers, resource families may also play an important role in preparing a child for reunification.


CA-FKC 16.04

The organization collaborates with resource families to:
  1. explain their role in supporting and facilitating reunification;
  2. help them explore and cope with any anxiety, grief, or other emotions they may feel as a result of the decision to reunify the family; and
  3. clarify whether there will be opportunities for contact with children following reunification.


CA-FKC 16.05

Parents are provided with needed documents and information related to their children’s time in care, including:
  1. legal documents;
  2. educational records, including copies of report cards and the most current Individualized Education Plan (IEP); 
  3. health and mental health records, including the names and addresses of children’s doctors, as well as information regarding any special needs and appropriate treatment, including medications, as applicable; and
  4. a written summary of children’s placements, experiences, and growth while separated from their families.


CA-FKC 16.06

Prior to reunification, the organization collaborates with families to develop individualized plans for promoting family stability after reunion, by addressing: 
  1. the issues, behaviours, and conditions that led to the involvement of the child welfare system;
  2. any issues stemming from children’s separation from their families, including any assistance needed to address separation and rebuild the parent-child relationship; and
  3. any additional formal and informal services and supports that the children and family may need.


The plan for maintaining family stability after reunification will likely be an extension of the family’s service plan. While plan should be developed prior to reunification, they should also allow for flexibility based on changing needs and circumstances.
Examples: Families often have both concrete and clinical needs, and may need help addressing many of the same issues and challenges that led to the involvement of the child welfare system in order to prevent re-entry. Services may be needed by both parents and children, and may include, but are not limited to: substance use treatment; mental health treatment; counselling; medical and dental care; educational advocacy and supports; specialized medical, mental health, or educational supports for children with special needs; child care; respite care; income support; housing assistance; transportation; homemaker assistance; vocational assistance; case management; mentoring; and support groups. Sources of informal and social support (e.g., extended family, neighbors, and other community members and institutions) may help to support the family over time, even after the case has been closed.


CA-FKC 16.07

Upon reunification children and families receive services, support, and monitoring for a period of time specified by the organization or court, and until case closing criteria are met.
NA The organization, by virtue of law or contract, does not provide post-reunification services.

Examples: To promote family stabilization and prevent re-entry to out-of-home care, services are often recommended to be maintained for at least 12 months after reunification. Families reunifying from treatment foster care may need additional time and support to adjust the child’s behavioural, emotional, or medical needs.