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Parental problems, case plan requirements, and service targeting in child welfare reunification


  • D'Andrade, Amy C.
  • Chambers, Ruth M.


Only about half of parents attempting to reunify with their children in foster care succeed in their efforts. Parents are ordered by the court to use treatment services in order to resolve their problems. These treatment services thus play a critical role in reunification, and in fact the use of services appropriately matched to parents' problems has been found to be associated with a greater likelihood of reunification. However, there is little in the literature regarding the specific requirements of reunification case plans, and whether they are accurately targeted at reunifying parents' problems. This mostly descriptive study uses case file data to examine the relationship between parental problems and case plan requirements for a sample of parents reunifying with their children in one large urban California county. Findings show that most reunifying parents had multiple problems, and were required to attend approximately 8 service events per week. There was a positive correlation between the total number of concerns (treatment problems and life challenges) and required weekly service events. While 85% of parents were ordered treatment services for all their identified problems, over 30% were ordered services targeting problems they were not known to have. Overall, 58% of parents were ordered both all appropriate and only appropriate services. Implications for policy and practice are discussed, including the need for models of service delivery that limit the burden of accessing multiple service locations for reunifying parents.

Suggested Citation

  • D'Andrade, Amy C. & Chambers, Ruth M., 2012. "Parental problems, case plan requirements, and service targeting in child welfare reunification," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 2131-2138.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:34:y:2012:i:10:p:2131-2138
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.07.008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Marcenko, Maureen O. & Lyons, Sandra J. & Courtney, Mark, 2011. "Mothers' experiences, resources and needs: The context for reunification," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 431-438, March.
    2. Choi, Sam & Ryan, Joseph P., 2007. "Co-occurring problems for substance abusing mothers in child welfare: Matching services to improve family reunification," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1395-1410, November.
    3. Green, Beth L. & Rockhill, Anna & Furrer, Carrie, 2007. "Does substance abuse treatment make a difference for child welfare case outcomes? A statewide longitudinal analysis," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 460-473, April.
    4. Bagdasaryan, Sofya, 2005. "Evaluating family preservation services: Reframing the question of effectiveness," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 615-635, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cheng, Tyrone C. & Lo, Celia C., 2016. "Linking worker-parent working alliance to parent progress in child welfare: A longitudinal analysis," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 10-16.
    2. Nese, Rhonda N.T. & Anderson, Cynthia M. & Ruppert, Traci & Fisher, Philip A., 2016. "Effects of a video feedback parent training program during child welfare visitation," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 266-276.
    3. Jarpe-Ratner, Elizabeth & Bellamy, Jennifer L. & Yang, Duck-Hye & Smithgall, Cheryl, 2015. "Using child welfare assessments and latent class analysis to identify prevalence and comorbidity of parent service needs," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 75-82.

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    Reunification; Case plans; Service matching;


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