Are There Disparities in Reunification in Foster Care?
According to a 2021 study researchers found that there are some disparities impacting which children are reunified with their families, but the disparities are are different from the disparities we see in child removal, which are primarily along racial lines.
For reunification, parental drug use has a negative impact on child reunification. Surprisingly, unlike earlier research, this study found a positive impact on reunification when a parent is incarcerated. "Statewide variables such as poverty rate, crime rate, teen birth rate, privatization, and Medicaid expansion were not significantly associated with reunification." Finally, there are some differences in reunification based on the race of the child. Native American children were the least likely group to reunify with their biological family. However, " those who were Hispanic, Asian, or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander had higher odds than White children. However, after adjusting for other factors, there were no differences for children who were Black or multi-racial when compared to White children.
The study concludes "At the policy-level, it is also important to evaluate policies and judicial practices that may unfairly penalize or disadvantage parents of color facing legal involvement for substance abuse issues."