Family Reunification with your child(ren) most likely is an emotional time. Reuniting with your child(ren) may take some time (usually 4-6 months or longer depending on the case), and will involve steps to be fully reunited. The courts and child protective services (and other agencies) may be involved in your case, and the ultimate goal is to reunite you and your child(ren). At the time you reach reunificaiton, you have hopefully been through all the mandated recommendations from the court and/or other agencies and ready to have visitiation with your child(ren). My role is to make sure the child(ren) are safe and ready to have visitation with the parent(s).
The six steps taken for family reunificaiton used through my services follow the recommendations through Snohomish Courts, King County Courts, and Child Welfare.
Step One: INTAKE PROCESS - Usualy takes approximately 10 hours to complete. The intake (approx. 4 hours of meeting time, and 3-6 hours of reading over legal documents/paperwork). Receive and read all the pertinent material involved in the case. I want to make sure the parent(s) have followed through with the requirements ordered through the courts and/or Child Protective Services(CPS) and review issues the parent(s) have been through. After reviewing the material, I will contact the attorney's involved, CPS worker, or any other professionals involved directly in the case (if necessary). Before I make contact with the parent(s), I want to make sure of any safety concerns that may be present, and any concerns the custodial parent or foster parent so I can develop a step by step process with the family.
Step Two: Part of the Intake Process:
Contact the custodial parent, non-custodial parent, and/or foster parents and discuss their concerns and how the process works. I will send paperwork (online or if by request conventional mail) to both set of parents (custodial and non-custodial). Set a meeting with both the custodial and non-custodial parent and hear 'both sides' of the stories. Receive a retainer for services, and proceed to the next step.
Meet the child(ren) in my office. This is an informal unstructured interview where I can meet the child(ren) and gain a better understanding of the family system. This is scheduled after the paperwork from the parents has returned to my office, a meeting with both parents has been completed, and a retainer for fees has been collected.
Set up another meeting with the non-custodial parent(s) that is seeking reunfication with their child(ren). I will meet with them separately and go over the process and address any concerns. This is when I will make sure the non-custodial parent(s) has followed through with recommendations from the courts, CPS, or other agencies. This will be discussed in detail, and I will get releases of information to contact all professionals involved. After collateral parties have been contacted, the parent(s) seeking reunification will be contaced again for the following: 1. a reunification meeting will be scheduled with the parent(s) and child(ren). This process may take a while (60-90 days when the process begins) because many factors need to be considered especially where the child(ren) is emotionally distraught over the estranged parent(s). Additionally, I may spend more time with the estranged parent (s) and children because of possible parenting issues, blame, anger, etc. and work through these issues prior to integrating the family unit. If the case is looking like there is possible parent alienation and/or enmeshment; the RT will work with the custodial parent/non-custodial parent(s) doing the potential alienation (whether they are aware or not), and help this parent work through this issue. Additionally, the RT will work separately with the child(ren) and help them re-attach to their 'targeted' parent.
After the estranged parent(s) has a good understanding of the process, parenting, and is or has worked on their prior issues, integration of the family will begin. Supervised phone calls or visits to the child(ren) may be the first step (depending on the age). After a few phone visits or in person visits, a structured, supervised visit will occur with the estranged parent(s) and child(ren). The custodial parent or foster parent(s) is involved during this process as well because of scheduling and travel time. There will be many supervised visits in a neutral location with the estranged parent(s) until the reunification therapist (RT) feels it is time for the family to move to the next stage. The FR will (most of the time) visit the estranged parent(s) home to watch the interaction within the family system. Once the RT feels the family may begin unsupervised visits, the RT will communicate this with the custodial parent(s), CPS, Foster Care, and the estranged parent(s). A report will be generated outlining rules for visitations, and given to the apporpriate parties involved.
The RT will do follow-up after-care visits after the first 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days. The RT will be in touch with the family to discuss any parenting issues that may come up, any concerns, and questions.
**Please note, this process above is the GENERIC rule, EVERY case/individual/family dynamics is different and will be treated as such. Long Counseling and Evaluation Services, PLLC treats each case individually. If you have questions about your specific process/case, please inquire with your RT.
***Reunification Therapy is not billed through your insurance company. It is to be paid by cash and/or credit/debit at the time of Reunification Therapy Intake. See Fees for further information. Sliding Fee schedules may apply. You may submit your bill from Long Counseling and Evaluation Services, PLLC to your insurance company for possible reimbursement.
~WATCH THIS VIDEO IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS ESTRANGED FROM THEIR CHILD