Family Reunification Celebrations Are Being Held Across Florida
Parents Reunited with Their Children Will Be Honored
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — To honor parents who successfully completed tasks necessary to be reunited with their children, Governor Charlie Crist has declared May 2-8, 2010 as Family Reunification Week in Florida and celebrations are being held across the state.
Since July 1, 2008, more than 14,000 Florida children have been reunified with their parents after being temporarily placed in foster homes or with relatives because of abuse or neglect, according to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
“Florida is honoring the mothers and fathers who worked so hard to change their lives and make their homes safe, because they wanted to bring their children home again. These parents are heroes to their children,” DCF Secretary George Sheldon said. “Celebrations during Family Reunification Week recognize the great progress that Florida is making in keeping families together.”
About 10 celebrations will be held, most of them during Family Reunification Week which leads up to Mother’s Day and others in June, closer to Father’s Day. Parents, children, foster parents, judges, service providers, child advocates and others will participate. Reunited families will share their stories, including the challenges they have overcome.
“Caseworkers, service providers, judges and foster parents are among the many people supporting parents’ efforts to be reunited with their children,” Sheldon said. “Essential to our success in reunifying families is giving parents immediate access to services such as substance abuse and mental health treatment, economic assistance and training in parenting skills.”
When child abuse or neglect has occurred, children may be removed from their home to ensure their safety and well-being. Parents then have an opportunity to address the challenges which led to their children’s removal. This includes the creation and fulfillment of a detailed case plan. In order to complete this process, parents must work closely and comply with orders from a judge, and also meet regularly with and be monitored by caseworkers.
The celebrations are being co-sponsored by community based care agencies, local providers of services to children and families, and DCF. Casey Family Programs, a national foundation helping children and families, assisted with this initiative, and the American Bar Association is supporting Family Reunification celebrations across the nation.
“This celebration shows what is possible when we all work together as partners along with parents to strengthen families and ensure that every child has a lifelong family connection,” said Page Walley of Casey Family Programs. “It will take this kind of shared commitment to ensure that every child in foster care leaves the uncertainty of foster care for safe, caring and permanent families.”
Local celebrations of Family Reunification Week and the statewide proclamation are available at: http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/initiatives/2010_FamilyReunificationWeek.shtml