TOPEKA – The removal of a child from their 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 in 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 safely possible. When the court must order removal, it is our primary goal to reunite children with their families, as quickly and safely as possible. To call attention to this priority, Governor Jeff Colyer 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 Wagoner’s—a Topeka family who recently went through the reunification process with their daughter, after receiving the necessary supports and services to be together once again.
When parents Darryl and Brandy temporarily lost custody of their child, 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, Darryl and Brandy were able to regain custody of their daughter. The proclamation signing coincided with the one-year anniversary of the Wagoner’s having their daughter back in their home.
At the proclamation signing, the Wagoner’s spoke about their struggles, but also encouraged other families to not give up in the reunification process.
“We had to start from the very beginning and work up,” Brandy Wagoner said. “We had no house, no car, no anything. So it was hard, but we just kept with it. I almost gave up. I’m glad I didn’t give up because I thought I was never going to get her back, but we stuck with it, and we are so happy.”
Children can be placed temporarily in foster care for numerous reasons, and in FY 17, 59 percent of children who reached permanency were reunified with their families.
In FY 2017, 2,099 Kansas children were successfully reunified with their families. Once the family is reunified, robust aftercare services ensure the family continues to make positive strides. In FY 2017, 92 percent of children reunified with their families did not return to foster care within 12 months.
Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel (middle-right) and Governor Jeff Colyer (far-right) talk to the Wagoner’s, a Topeka family that was successfully reunified with their daughter a year ago.