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Abstract

Abstract

An exploration of professional and practice-based perspectives on supporting birth parents towards reunification with their children.

When children are placed in out-of-home care (e.g. foster care; hereafter ‘care’), it is the State’s duty to work with the children’s birth parents and ensure that systems and supports are in place to enable parents to resume caring for their children (i.e. for reunification to take place), when it is in the best interest of the child to do so. In Ireland, there is a dearth of data, research, policy and practice guidance regarding the process of reunification. There is also limited research on the experiences of birth parents whose children are in care in Ireland. This paper draws on data gathered as part of a study of professional and practice-based perspectives on reunification of children in care in Ireland. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 12 respondents from various professional backgrounds including social workers and social care workers. . In this paper, we examine the perspectives of participants regarding how birth parents might be better supported to work towards reunification.

Findings suggest there is limited scope to work with and support parents of children in care in the current system. More focus is required to ensure parents are informed of their rights and empowered to remain present in the lives of their children and to work towards reunification. Suggestions are also made for exploration of a specialised service or team, as in other jurisdictions, to work with parents to promote family reunification.

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