Topic: Post-Reunification Services

Scientific Ratings in this topic:

1 - Well-Supported by Research Evidence

2 - Supported by Research Evidence

3 - Promising Research Evidence

4 - Evidence Fails to Demonstrate Effect

5 - Concerning Practice

NR - Not able to be Rated

Learn more about the scale

Definition for Post-Reunification Services:

Post-Reunification Services (also called after-care services) are defined by the CEBC as programs or services to prevent re-report to Child Welfare Services (CWS) and/or re-entry to foster care/out-of-home placement after the family has been reunified. Reunification is the most common permanency plan for children in out-of-home care and nationally, over half (53.4%) of children exiting out-of-home care in 2020 were reunified. However, some families struggle after reunification and, depending on the state, between 3% and 16% of children re-entered foster care within 12 months of reunification. When examined over longer periods, studies show that between 20% and 40% of children re-enter foster care within 5 years.

There is increasing recognition that a child’s and family’s needs do not end at the time of reunification, as many of the underlying issues that led to the initial placement may still be present or at risk of re-occurring. To prevent future maltreatment and re-entry, post-reunification services need to be consistently offered, sufficiently available, and tailored to meet the specific needs of the child and family, Including racial, ethnic, and cultural needs. Post-reunification services may include clinical services (e.g., mental health therapy, substance abuse treatment, domestic violence intervention, crisis intervention, etc.), material or financial services (e.g., income support, job training, health care coverage, housing assistance, etc.); and support systems (e.g., respite care, peer support groups, family strengthening, linkages with the health and education systems and other community-based services, etc.).

  • Target population: Reunified families with children who previously have had an out-of-home placement
  • Services/types that fit: Clinical, material, financial, and support system services
  • Delivered by: CWS staff, contracted providers, behavioral health professionals, and trained paraprofessionals
  • In order to be included: Program must deliver either short-term higher level of placement services or services designed to be an alternative to placement in higher levels of care, or must train staff and/or caregivers to deliver these services
  • In order to be rated: There must be research evidence (as specified by the Scientific Rating Scale) that examines reunification-related outcomes, such as post-reunification maltreatment reports and re-entries to out-of-home care.

Programs in this Topic Area

The programs listed below have been reviewed by the CEBC and, if appropriate, been rated using the Scientific Rating Scale.

Three Programs with a Scientific Rating of 3 - Promising Research Evidence:

  • Homebuilders®
    Families with children (birth to 18) at imminent risk of placement into, or needing intensive services to return from, foster care, ...
  • On the Way Home (OTWH)
    Middle and high school students (12-18) with, or at-risk for, emotional and behavioral disorders transitioning from residential placements back into ...
  • TASC’s Family Recovery & Reunification Program
    Parents of children (aged 0-18) of whom custody has been taken by the State, with a drug or alcohol problem ...

Three Programs with a Scientific Rating of NR - Not able to be Rated:

Topic Expert

The Post-Reunification Services topic area was added in August 2023. Richard Barth, PhD, was the topic expert and was involved in identifying and rating any of the programs with an original load date in 2023 (as found on the bottom of the program's page on the CEBC) or others loaded earlier and added to this topic area when it launched.