Understanding social support in reunification: the views of foster children, birth families and social workers

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Balsells, M. ÀngelsBalsells, M. Àngels - ORCID ID
Pastor Vicente, Crescencia
Molina, María Cruz
Fuentes-Peláez, Núria
Vázquez, Noelia
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Research suggests that the social support received from fathers and mothers is a key factor in the reunification process, particularly on a foster child’s return home. However, little is known regarding the nature of this support, its sources and the aspects on which such support should be focused. The aim of this study is to describe the social support that families require at the time of a child’s return to successfully re-establish the family positive dynamics, functioning and routines. This research is based on information gathered in Spain from a focus group and in interviews of 63 professionals, 42 parents and 30 children. The method is qualitative, and the ATLAS.ti program is used for content analysis. The qualitative data enable a better understanding of the views of the individuals involved. The results indicate the relevance of the support provided by the protection system and the social services. The results also reveal the insufficiency of the informal support network. These findings suggest implications for social workers when focusing post-reunification support on specific needs linked to parental skills, personal difficulties of the parents and the stability of the family context.
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British Journal of Social Work, 2016, May