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Reunification occurs when children reunite with their families after being temporarily removed from their homes due to safety or wellness concerns. Studies have shown that reunification is a valuable goal, as it not only allows families to stay intact, it allows children to remain connected to their extended families, cultures, traditions, schools, friends, and communities. According to Casey Family Programs data, in 2019, 55% of children exiting foster care in Minnesota were reunited with their families, and 16% exited to the home of a relative or guardian.

St. David’s Center’s Foster Care program is committed to the goal of reunification, and to achieve this, our team works with a network of parents, foster parents, social workers, judges, attorneys, and guardian ad litem. Everyone involved in this process is dedicated to strengthening the family units (by connecting family members to educational resources, therapies, and evidence-based services, for example) and to ensuring children return to healthy and supportive home environments. St. David’s Center is a strong advocate and partner of the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI-MN) and its goal to rework the foster care system and put the child at the center of the process.

Our foster parents are a crucial component of our Foster Care program and are key to successful reunification. Their big hearts and generosity are inspiring, and their insight into foster care and reunification is illuminating. In honor of Reunification Month, we asked Terrilyn Wilson, a St. David’s Center foster parent for the past six years, to share a few thoughts about her foster experience.

  1. Why did you decide to foster? The reason why I chose to become a foster parent is because my mother fostered children when I was young, and I knew after I raised my own children I would one day do the same. I see it as an ongoing opportunity to do my part in my community. Our children are our future!
  2. What keeps you continuing to foster? I continue to foster because the support that I receive from SDC is invaluable, and there will always be children in need of a temporary home.
  3. What is your favorite activity to do with your foster child? My favorite activity to do with my foster child is our weekly activity (that I often schedule though Tickets for Kids) like Sea Quest. I don’t have pets in my home, and children love being able to see and touch all the different animals. 
  4. Do you have any suggestions or recommended resources (e.g. books, podcasts, etc.) for anyone who’s considering becoming a foster parent? I would suggest that if anyone is thinking about becoming a foster parent, they should be licensed through SDC and a member of QPI. I would not be the foster parent I am without them. 
  5. Is there anything you wish you had known or asked before becoming a foster parent? I wish I had known more about “the honeymoon period.” I have learned this is the opportunity to set the tone and make sure they feel safe in my home. I am committed to doing all the “adulting” to allow them to just be a kid.
  6. What is a favorite memory you have as a foster parent? Although it is not a memory, I enjoy the random phone calls and pictures from the sisters I fostered that where adopted by their aunt. I am so proud and thankful to have been a part of their lives. Although they were two of my most challenging kiddos, I feel blessed, and their success encourages me to continue. 
  7. What do you do as a foster parent to support reunification for kids and their families? I do everything I can to support reunification. I always speak positively to the children in my home about their parents and encourage early and consistent communication whenever possible. I believe the children need to feel like the village around them supports their family as a whole. My position is to make sure my kiddos are in a safe place to grow until their families can… provide them a home they can return to.   
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