Returning home from care: what's best for children What is needed to support family reunification

Teenage boy sat outsideExamines the issues around children returning home from care and support for family reunification.

This report looks at how we can address the problems of reunification and outlines innovative new approaches to support children returning home from care and protect them from harm.

Author: NSPCC
Published: 2012

The most common outcome for children leaving care is to return home to a parent or relative.

Research shows that around half of children who come into care because of abuse or neglect suffer further abuse if they return home, with up to half of those returning to care.

This report highlights NSPCC recommendations to central and local government to improve outcomes for children returning home from care.

These include:

  • publishing data about the outcomes for children who return home from care in order to increase transparency and improve performance
  • improving the support available to children, young people and their families prior to and following a return home, to tackle problems such as drug or alcohol dependency, domestic violence, mental health conditions and poor parenting
  • revising the monitoring arrangements following a child’s return home from care to ensure that they are provided with the support they need
  • ensuring that outcomes for children who return home from care are central to performance assessments
  • ensuring that children’s views and best interests are central to decisions about returning home from care.

The report also includes information on new NSPCC approaches to practice in four key areas of reunification: assessment, decision making, planning and monitoring.

Forward 3
Executive summary 4
Introduction and background 6
Case study: Leanne’s story 8
Interviews with social workers and senior managers 10
Planning, preparation and supervision 12
Assessment 14
Support for children and their parents 16
Monitoring and support following the child’s return home 18
Conclusion 19
Evidence-based risk assessment and decision making 21
Structured planning and preparation 22
Proactive support and monitoring 22
Communicating with children and parents 23

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Other research and resources

Promoting the wellbeing of children in care: messages from research

A book presenting chapters from academics, practitioners and policy analysts on how we can improve care for looked after children in the UK.
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Evaluation of implementation of an evidence-informed framework for return home practice

Report by Loughborough University about using the NSPCC Framework to support children to safely return home from care. Part of the NSPCC’s Impact and evidence series.
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Returning children home from care: learning from case reviews

Lessons from case reviews published since 2010, which have highlighted lessons for returning children home from care.
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Supporting children and families returning home from care: counting the costs

Compares the costs of providing support services to children and families returning home with the costs of failed reunifications.
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What works in preventing and treating poor mental health in looked after children?

Overview of the evidence about what works in preventing and treating poor mental health of children in care.
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Keeping children safe: allegations concerning the abuse or neglect of children in care

Research into the number and nature of child abuse allegations made against foster carers and residential care workers in the UK.
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