June is National Reunification Month

11 June 2021

June is National Reunification Month, a time to celebrate the hundreds of parents who overcame obstacles and did the hard work necessary to safely keep their children at home or safely reunify with them after they were placed in out-of-home care.

Family reunification is the preferred and most common outcome for children and youth in state care. In  2020, 53% of Vermont children and youth who left out-of-home care returned to their parents or other family members.

The month is also an opportunity to recognize the people, programs, services, and supports that help families to remain intact. This includes extended family members, DCF Family Services Workers, foster parents, service providers, lawyers, judges, and others.

One parent shared her reunification story, saying, “When I first heard from DCF, I was scared. I thought they’d just want to take my children and keep them away from me. I had no idea that my Family Services Worker would end up being one of my biggest supporters.”

After a judge temporarily placed her children with a relative to keep them safe, Gwen decided that it was time to make some changes.

“I had a clear choice,” she said. “I could continue down the path I was on: abusing drugs, staying in an abusive relationship, not taking care of myself or my children, blaming everyone but myself. Or I could take advantage of the help being offered.”

Gwen chose the latter. Read more of her story here.

“The families we work with come from all backgrounds and situations,” said Family Services Deputy Commissioner Aryka Radke. “We do our best to meet them where they are and get them the resources they need to keep their children at home, or return home,  safely. When families are willing to change and grow, our workers are an invaluable resource that can help.”

On June 3, 2021, Governor Phil Scott declared June 2021 as Family Reunification Month in Vermont. View the full proclamation here.