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Reunification with birth family main goal of foster care

For Immediate Release, Thursday, June 17, 2021
Media Contact: Steve Long, steve.long@state.sd.us or 605.773.5465

Reunification with birth family main goal of foster care

PIERRE – The main goal of foster care through the Department of Social Services (DSS) is to safely return children to their birth family.  Foster families play an important role in facilitating healing in both children and families so that children in foster care can go home to a healthy birth family.

 “We believe in building stronger families. Foster care is one way that happens.” said DSS Cabinet Secretary Laurie Gill.  “Foster care is intended to be temporary, and it’s intended to benefit both the children and the child’s parent’s or other caregivers.  Ultimately, we hope it gives the child and their birth family a fresh new start together.”

When families are not able to provide safe care for children due to challenges in their own lives foster families provide a safe, nurturing, and loving home for children.  However, foster families also provide encouragement and support to the entire family as they work to make the changes needed for their children to safely come home.  

Foster care is about families supporting families which is a longtime value in South Dakota. More foster families are needed in South Dakota to provide a safe place for children when they need it, and to support birth families with reunification.

DSS in partnership with South Dakota Kids Belong is working to recruit, prepare, and support more foster and adoptive families in our state through the Stronger Families Together campaign.

“Foster care is about both the children and their families. We want the children to be reunited with their parents and raised in a family where they are loved and protected,” Gill said. “Safe reunification is far more common than many people may realize. Foster care is not about separating families, it’s about strengthening them and giving them the support they need to be healthy.”

Reunification is more than a goal; it is a reality.  It happens every year for hundreds of children and families in our state. At this point in state fiscal year 2021, 494 children in state custody have been successfully reunified with their parents. Of the children who have entered state custody so far in SFY 2021, 71% have been reunited with their family.

Reunification is not always possible, and in those cases adoptive families are key.  However, safe reunification is always the goal.

 For more information about Stronger Families Together and how to get involved, visit FosterOne.sd.gov

People interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent can visit FosterOne.sd.gov and fill out the short online “Commit to know more” card.