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Reunification of Looked After Children with their Birth Parents in the United Kingdom: A Literature Review and Thematic Synthesis

Carlson, L, HUTTON, Stephanie, PRIEST, Helena and MELIA, Yvonne (2019) Reunification of Looked After Children with their Birth Parents in the United Kingdom: A Literature Review and Thematic Synthesis. Child and Family Social Work. ISSN 1365-2206

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Background: Reunification of looked after children with their birth parents is the most common route to permanency for looked after children in the UK (Department for Education, 2018). Previous research evidence, mainly from American studies, suggests numerous factors that contribute to successful reunification outcomes (Biehal, 2007). Less is known about the current evidence base for reunification practice in the UK.
Objective: This review aimed to identify, appraise and synthesise published literature concerned with the reunification of looked after children with their birth parents in the UK.
Methods: A systematic search of the literature identified eight peer-reviewed studies conducted between 2005 and 2017 exploring reunification practice in the UK. Studies were critically appraised and thematically synthesised according to the Thomas and Harden (2008) approach.
Results: Eight articles met eligibility criteria. Descriptive themes were: support, case management, oscillation, parenting, and reoccurrence of abuse. Analytic themes were: lack of guidance, and risks associated with return.
Conclusions: A pattern of oscillation between home and care was common for many looked after children, and remaining in care produced relatively better outcomes. Difficulties arise when comparing studies on reunification, due to methodological variation. Further research is needed to explore the views of reunited children themselves.

Keywords: looked after children, birth parents, reunification, United Kingdom

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: "This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: [FULL CITE], which has been published in final form at [Link to final article using the DOI]. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions."
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Psychology
Depositing User: Helena PRIEST
Date Deposited: 16 May 2019 14:50
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:55

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