The removal of a child from his/her home is often a traumatic experience—both for the child and the parents. This month we celebrate the parents who do the work necessary to have their children safely returned to their homes. Family Reunification Month reminds us that, for many parents, it’s the turning point on their journey to becoming the best parents they can be for their children.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF), along with its contracted providers and community partners, work every day to keep children with their families, when it is a safe option. When the court must order removal, it is our goal to reunite children with their families as quickly and safely as possible. To call attention to this priority, Governor Sam Brownback has designated June as Family Reunification Month—a time to honor the work parents do to ensure their children can return to a safe and loving home.
During the proclamation signing, the Governor met the Browns—a Topeka family who recently went through the reunification process with their four children, after receiving the necessary supports and services to be together once again.
When parents Tony and Stacy temporarily lost custody of their children, they knew they had to make changes in their lives to provide their children a stable environment. With the support of DCF and KVC, and lots of hard work, Tony and Stacy were able to regain custody of their children.
At the proclamation signing, the Browns spoke about their struggles, but gave a hopeful message about the work they put in and where they are now.
“Never give up,” Stacy Brown said. “Your kids are everything to you. They want you no matter if you’re the worst parent or the best parent. And I say that from experience, because my kids still love me even though I wasn’t doing the best. So keep going, keep fighting, because it [reunification] is possible.”
Children can be placed temporarily in foster care for numerous reasons, and in more than 55 percent of cases, the children will be returned to their homes.
In fiscal year 2016, 2,254 Kansas children were successfully reunified with their families. Once the family is reunified, robust aftercare services ensure the family continues to make positive strides. More than 90 percent of children reunified with their families do not return to foster care within 12 months.
From left to right: Anna Seehorn, KVC Aftercare Supervisor; Jessica Boswell, KVC Family Support Worker; Dr. Linda Bass, KVC Vice President; DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore; Jerilyn Smith, KVC Director of Family Preservation, East Region; Sharri Black, DCF Prevention and Protection Services Deputy Director; Governor Sam Brownback; Brenda Woods, DCF Program Administrator for Permanency; Peggy Mast; DCF Faith-based and Community Initiatives Director; Stacy Brown; Even Brown; Alexis Brown; Caleb Brown; Tony Brown; Anthony Brown