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Child Abuse Negl. 1998 Apr;22(4):305-18.

Shared parenting: assessing the success of a foster parent program aimed at family reunification.

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  • 1C. M. Hincks Centre for Children's Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



There were two main objectives of the study: (1) To assess the effectiveness of a model of family reunification which united the role of parent aide and foster parent; and (2) to determine which characteristics of the families with children in care were associated with reunification.


A multisite project known as the Shared Parenting Project recruited families from five child protection agencies to participate in a program in which foster parents became extended rather than substitute families. Families were tested before the program began on a number of sociodemographic, psychological, and family measures. The success of the program was determined by whether the child was able to return home of if the program facilitated permanency planning. The success of the project was also examined by considering the relationship between returning home and a number of risk factors measured in the families with children in care.


Very few families who met the criteria for the project could be recruited and only 31% of the participants completed the program and returned home. The process of permanency planning was facilitated in another 50% of the cases. The more stable families with less risk factors were more likely to complete the program successfully and to have their children return home.


The results indicate that although the treatment model has excellent potential with less at-risk families it could not meet the treatment needs of the majority of families with children in foster care in the five child protection agencies. It is recommended that this model could be most helpful offered through parent aides attached to community support agencies that could provide respite care, support, and resources to families as needed thus avoiding the child having to be placed in care.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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