State - Oakland County Circuit Court recognizes National Reunification Day

The Oakland County Circuit Court will join other courts across the nation in recognizing the first officially-designated National Reunification Day on June Thursday, 24. Introduced by the Michigan Supreme Court, the day celebrates parents who have successfully completed tasks necessary to be reunited with their children, and acknowledges the work of case workers, social workers, service providers, judges and foster parents who share in the responsibility of strengthening families so that children may be safely returned home. National Reunification Day celebrates the reuniting of these families and raises awareness of the importance of reunifying children in foster care.

Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Pezzetti, presiding judge of the Family Division, commented, "It is a child's right to grow up with a safe and permanent family. The Court applauds parents who have completed the steps necessary to be reunited with their children. It is through a commitment and working together with partners in the community that make it possible for parents to successfully overcome the difficulties that separated them from their children, and return children in foster care to a safe environment."

It is the goal of the Department of Human Services (DHS) to keep children in their own home while working with the family whenever possible. But in cases where children are at risk of severe abuse or neglect, the Court's involvement to remove the children to a safe environment is a necessary and acceptable outcome. If foster care is necessary, the aim is to give parents access to the services they need to face their challenges, change their lives, and make their homes safe for their children's return or the Court will move from reunification to a more permanent goal of adoption, permanent relative placement, permanent guardianship, or another planned permanent living arrangement.

In recent years, DHS has made great advancements in reducing the number of children removed from home to foster care. Sue Hull, Director of Children's Services Administration for the Oakland County Department of Human Services, stated, "As recently as two years ago, Oakland County DHS had a little over 1600 children in foster care. Due to our combined efforts with the Court, we have reduced our foster care population to 950 currently. Reunification is our first and primary goal once children have been removed from their families. In addition, the federal government measures many outcomes for our performance in supporting foster children. One of those measures is timeliness of reunification. Oakland County's performance is above 90% of the federal standard established for reunifying children with their families."

National Reunification Day recognizes what is possible when the Court and community work as partners with parents to strengthen families and ensure the safety of our children. It acknowledges the commitment, teamwork, and resources that bring families back together.

Published: Tue, Jun 15, 2010