For the first time since the pandemic, the Washington Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care (Commission) is bringing together families, advocates, social workers, attorneys, court staff, and communities across the state to celebrate reunification of parents with their children in the foster care system. Governor Jay Inslee kicked off events on May 19, 2023 with a formal proclamation that declares June 2023 Family Reunification Month. Counties across the state have planned at least 18 events bringing the community together to celebrate reunification throughout June and beyond.
Today, over 8,000 children live in foster homes across the state. Over 60 percent of these children will return to their families through programs guided by the courts. This month celebrates and recognizes families who have overcome the challenges that led to their separation, connects parents with parent allies, and highlights best practices in reunifying families who have been separated.
Co-chairs of the Washington State Reunification Day Steering Committee noted the importance of reunification for children within the system and role of mentoring among parents. Parent Representative and Co-Chair Tonia McClanahan explains, “We get to celebrate parents with their families and highlight all the hard work they've done to reunify. Many of these parents then become parent allies who use their lived experience to help other parents through the process. It is the best kind of mentoring.” A former foster parent of over eight years, Kitsap County Superior Judge Jeffrey Basset brought it back to the children, highlighting that “No matter the reason a child was removed from a parent’s custody, the child most always craves for return.”