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The Power of Family: Celebrating Family Reunification Month
The Power of Family: Celebrating Family Reunification Month

June is Family Reunification Month! In this time, we acknowledge and celebrate the power of family. It’s an opportunity to intensify our efforts to make it possible for families to reach permanency through reunification. Nationally, one out of two children who enter foster care will never reunite with their families. What can we do to shift this statistic? 

MCC’s initiative Connected Communities - Thriving Families (CC-TF) aims to help families stay safely together in their communities. CC-TF is built on three core beliefs, all of which exemplify why Family Reunification Month represents a vital priority for Missouri. 

  1. Families Belong Together

Families deserve the chance to reunify – or better yet, stay unified. Family separation can cause lifelong trauma for both children and parents. For example, the rate of PTSD for children in foster care is twice as high for Gulf War veterans. When listening to parents with lived experience, we’ve heard that entering the foster care system breaks trust between parent and child; parents are often stigmatized and made out to be the enemy. “If we want to help children, we have to help their parents. It's just basic common sense,” Shrounda Selivanoff said in a Family Reunification Month webinar hosted by the American Bar Association. While child protection is critical, focusing on holistically on family, community and child well-being can prevent families from splitting apart. 

  1. Poverty Should Not Be a Reason to Separate Families 

In 2022, more than half of all substantiated hotline calls were due to a finding of neglect. “Neglect” is a broadly defined and inconsistently applied term. The top conditions cited were a lack of supervision and inadequate housing – concerns that could be resolved by helping families access the resources they need to thrive. “The system is built on a foundation of if you don’t have money to provide, you don’t care,” Shrounda said. “If parents had the money, most folks want to be able to provide and do wonderful things for their children. Ultimately, we as a nation need to provide people with the opportunities to provide resources to their families in ways that their hearts truly would love to do so.” 

  1. All Children and Families Have Strengths 

Every family is unique. Listening to families and amplifying their voices is essential. “Love is what matters, and we have to open ourselves up to seeing how that is demonstrated by each family,” Shrounda said. “They are individuals. They are unique.” When we stop assuming that all families in crisis need the same things, we can shift to an individualized approach that prioritizes listening to what families say they need to stay safely together. 
For more information about Family Reunification Month, visit the Children’s Bureau Express, the American Bar Association and the Child Welfare Information Gateway. Learn more about Connected Communities - Thriving Families by watching the video below.