California Family Reunification Services


Family Reunification Services

The aim of reunification services in California is to educate parents whose children have been placed in foster care or other out-of-home care, to be able to live together again as a family unit. Regulations for reunification services can be found in the California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 361 and 16507.

When Is Reunification Available?

Family reunification services, provided by the county welfare department, are available for the purpose of reuniting a child who has been removed from a parent or guardian due to abuse or neglect. Reunification services are available for up to 6, 12, 18 or 24 months, depending upon the age of the minor, the parent’ progress in reunification services and statutory requirements.

A court does not have to order reunification services if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the parent or guardian: (1) cannot be located after reasonable efforts, (2) suffers from a mental disability rendering him or her incapable of utilizing reunification services, (3) has caused the death of another child due to abuse or neglect, (4) has had their parental rights to any sibling or half sibling of the child terminated, (5) or has been convicted of a violent felony. The court may also choose not to order reunification if the child (6) has been adjudicated a dependent of the court, or (7) has been abandoned.

Types of California Reunification Services
  • Parenting classes
    Parenting training services are geared toward educating parents about child development and parenting strategies, as well as improving parenting skills and correcting the problems that led to the neglect or abuse of the child. Parenting classes can cover general parenting education or be targeted to address more complex parenting issues.

  • Substance abuse services
    Substance abuse services address drug and alcohol dependency and are generally clinical in nature. Even though substance abuse by parents is common in the welfare system, it is an issue that can be decisive in whether reunification is possible or likely. Substance abuse services often require a parent to complete a 12-step program, undergo random drug tests, and enroll in residential or outpatient treatment.

  • Domestic violence services
    Domestic violence services are often a mix of clinical and educational services targeted at both the victim and perpetrator of domestic violence. Domestic violence services for perpetrators often consist of outpatient weekly or bi weekly meetings and treatment that focuses on changing interaction patterns between the batterer and victim. Services for victims generally provide support and education for victims of abuse.

  • Mental health services
    Mental health services often include outpatient individual or group counseling, marital therapy, or medication. It has been found that many parents with mental health and substance abuse problems tend to have a history of significant abuse and trauma. Many of these services focus on the effects of trauma, addressing specific symptoms, and maintaining sobriety.

  • Family conferencing services or “Team Decision Meetings”
    An important family unification service is the use of family team meetings, family group conferencing, and family group and decision-making where professionals can share information across agencies and offices and where families can have input in their own case plan management.

Orange County Family Reunification Attorney at the Law Office of Lauren K. Johnson

Our criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Lauren K. Johnson will provide you with experienced legal support for family reunification issues. If you would like to reunite with your family it is important to get in touch with our Orange County family lawyer as soon as possible. We can be reached by phone at 949-679-7745 or you can send us a message online today.