Exploring the needs of parents for achieving reunification: The views of foster children, birth family and social workers in Spain

Maria Àngels Balsells*, Crescencia Pastor, Ainoa Mateos, Eduard Vaquero, Aida Urrea

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Family reunification refers to the process through which children and adolescents under a measure of temporary separation (foster care or residential) return to live with their biological families. The research has begun to reflect a paradigm change in intervention and support for these families that affects the consolidation of reunification and the prevention of new processes of separation and reentry into the protection system. Objectives: This article examines the needs of parents who are susceptible to an educational intervention from a positive focus that contributes to the consolidation of family reunification. Method: Eighteen semi-structured interviews were conducted and 22 discussion groups were convened with 135 participants (63 protection-system professionals, 42 parents and 30 children and adolescents). The data were analyzed through content analysis and were subject to peer revision. Results: A series of parents' specific educational needs when their children return home was recognized. These needs can be the objects of family intervention based on a positive focus directed toward highlighting parents' strengths and are related to awareness of family progress, emotional management, giving and receiving help from other families and social support. The participants' comments show that feelings of self-sufficiency and positive reinforcement are fundamental for consolidation of the process. Conclusions: Social support through formal and informal networks may be a path to explore for providing more and better support after returning home. Empowering families so that they can be agents of support for other families can be a way to consolidate reunification, allowing families to be active agents in the reunification process. In addition, listening to children's voices can be a good strategy for family consolidation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)159-166
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Birth family
  • Child welfare
  • Content analysis
  • Family consolidation
  • Reunification
  • Social support


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