Supporting children to return home after an episode of care is a key concern within children’s social care services.
Reunification, when children return home to their parents after a period in out-of-home care, remains the most common way for children to leave care but is becoming less frequent and rates of re-entry to care are high compared to other exit routes such as adoption and special guardianship.
The factors influencing rates of reunification and re-entry to care have been fairly well established in existing reviews and studies. However, evidence on how to improve the chances of successful reunification for children who return home from care has as yet not been systematically assembled.
As part of work undertaken to support the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC) has commissioned a brief evidence review into this area to capture a growing evidence base and inform the recommendations of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care.
The aim of the evidence review is to contribute to the knowledge base about improving the chances of successful reunification. It will do this through a systematic search of the literature, focusing on empirical studies of services designed to improve the outcomes of reunification in the UK and some other countries with a comparable child welfare system.
This review will focus on the services and interventions that have been found to improve reunification outcomes and investigate the support that can help children who return home to thrive in their families.
The evidence review will answer the following questions:
- What services and interventions have been found to improve the outcomes of reunification?
- What types of support (for children, parents, families, networks) can help children who return home to thrive?
The review will be carried out from September-December 2021 and will report in mid-January 2022.