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How should children and families be reintegrated?

There are three levels of intervention: working with the child and family, working with the wider community and policy change
Family together - sitting on steps outside.
© Nolte Lourens, Shutterstock

What does reintegration of children and families mean? Recently issued ‘Guidelines on Children’s Reintegration’ published by an inter-agency group on children’s reintegration has been widely accepted within the international care community. It outlines three levels of intervention:

  1. Work with the child and family
  2. Work with the wider community, including with schools
  3. Policy change

This guidance on reintegration builds on several existing care policies, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and provides a set of guiding principles along with models for assessments and leaving care plans.

1 Work with the child and family

The guidance highlights the steps to be taken when working with children and families on the reintegration process, including:

  • Assessments to establish whether reunification is possible and in a child’s best interest
  • Tracing families if contact has been lost
  • Ensuring root causes that led to original separation have been/are being addressed
  • Taking the time necessary to facilitate careful preparation of children, their families, and their community
  • Facilitating initial contact between a child and their family with all necessary supervision and support
  • Continuing with support for the reunification process until the correct time a child is able to live full time with their family
  • Offering follow-up support and monitoring after a child returns to their family until it is considered possible to end such support.

2 Work with the wider community

Working with schools and communities involves supporting them to:

  • Monitor child wellbeing
  • Tackle any possible stigma and discrimination
  • Building community support for families and children.

3 Policy change

Creating an environment and systems that are supportive to children’s reintegration include:

  • National laws, policy, strategic plans, regulations, guidance, and standards that provide a remit for quality reintegration processes
  • Availability of all financial and other needed resources
  • Provision of sufficient numbers of well-trained child welfare workers who understand and, can effectively support, children’s reintegration
  • Data collection, monitoring and evaluation systems to track progress and inform policy and planning.

It is important to ensure full and meaningful participation of a child in all aspects of planning for and undertaking of a reintegration process.

This article is from the free online

Getting Care Right for All Children: Implementing the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children

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