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How do I reintegrate children?

How do I reintegrate children?

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Typically reintegration will take place following weeks or months of preparation time for the children and their families. Practitioners carry the tension of not wanting to move too fast which could put the child at risk in an unprepared or unsafe family, while also not allowing the child to linger in residential care which is also traumatic. Reintegration requires careful preparation, establishing a case management system and strengthening the whole family.

Therefore, based on previous experiences, lessons learned, and accepted standards of care and protection for children, we need to:



Facilitate family reunification

  • Coordinate with all relevant government agencies and child welfare actors for the rapid identification, documentation, tracing, and reunification of separated children.
  • Ensure standard operating procedures are in place that define roles and responsibilities of those involved in the care, reunification and legal status determination of separated children. These should include information-sharing protocols, case management systems and program coordination.
  • Link children’s and their families’ claims in court so they are processed together.
  • Respect the rights of parents and children to select their preferred reunification plan.
  • Keep siblings together and avoid moving them far from their caregivers.

Provide mental health and psychosocial support to children and their families

  • Establish and support contact between children and families and prepare them for reunification.
  • Strengthen access to child-appropriate mental health and psychosocial support services that are accessible within social distancing guidelines.
  • Update children, families, and caregivers on their cases through appropriate platforms in a timely, safe, accessible, and age and gender appropriate manner.

Ensure that administrative and legal procedures meet their best interests

  • Limit children’s exposure to processing centers, detention or institutional care facilities. Limit unnecessary contact with others that heighten their risk of contracting the virus.
  • Ensure that all personnel who interact with children are appropriately trained in age–and disability-appropriate, gender–sensitive, trauma-informed care and support.
  • Establish and adhere to administrative and legal procedures that treat separated children in a non-discriminatory, age-appropriate and trauma – informed manner.
  • Provide children and their families with access to timely legal representation.
  • Update children and their families using communication that is appropriate to their age, gender and disability.

Prevent further family separation and support family based care

  • Provide non-custodial, community-based alternatives to residential care that support family unity and reflect the family’s changing needs as their cases proceed.
  • Place all children awaiting reunification in family based care  where their best interests are a primary consideration.
  • At all times, ensure children have access to adequate food, shelter, health care, rest, educational, social and recreational activities, daily contact with family members, and professional psychosocial and legal services.