News

SCDSS Recognizes June as Reunification Month

SCDSS Recognizes June as Reunification Month

 

June 1, 2020 – Columbia, S.C. - Governor Henry McMaster has proclaimed June as National Reunification Month in recognition of the coordinated efforts that help families stay together. It is also a time the SC Department of Social Services celebrates families who overcome obstacles to provide a safe and loving home for their children and are able to reunify after their children have been placed in the child welfare system.

 

Families with open child protective services cases are usually prescribed a treatment plan aimed at addressing concerns within the family unit. When appropriate, children are placed in foster care which provides a temporary placement for children while families work with counselors, community service organizations, treatment programs, etc. through a specific plan which is developed with the goal of strengthening the family.

 

The South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) works with the Family Court, judges, attorneys, Guardians ad Litem, foster parents, child advocates and others within the child welfare system to improve policies to help keep families together. Together, all entities work to implement evidence-based interventions to improve outcomes for children and their families.

 

According to national statistics collected by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children & Families, US Department of Health and Human Services, “reunification is the most common goal for children in out-of-home care (55 percent in 2015) as well as the most common outcome for children leaving care (51 percent in 2015).”1

 

In his proclamation, Gov. McMaster said, “Reunification with parents and family is the best option and preferred outcome, when possible, for children removed from their homes and placed in foster care.”

 

SCDSS State Director Michael Leach extols the virtues of reunification.  “We know children want their families to stay intact. Research has shown that every year a child remains in foster care, the likelihood of reunification declines. DSS child welfare professionals are committed to listening to families, recognizing their strengths and needs, and working with them, their extended family members, and every person invested in the family’s success, to achieve reunification as quickly as is safely possible.”

 

Even in the midst of challenges presented by the Coronavirus pandemic to achieving timely permanency for children and families, more than 150 children have been returned to their families since March 16. DSS attorneys praise Chief Justice Don Beatty, family court judges, legal counterparts at the Office of Indigent Defense, Guardians ad Litem, and case managers for the creative use of virtual hearings and consent orders when all parties agreed reunification was safe.

Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2017). Supporting successful reunifications. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau.


Do you have a complaint regarding services being provided to a child by a state agency? Please submit your complaint by phone (1-800-206-1957) or an electronic submission form here with the South Carolina Department of Children's Advocacy.