The Successful Reunification of Abused and Neglected Children with Their Families: A Case-FIle Audit

Murphy, Eleanor and Fairtlough, Anna. 2014. The Successful Reunification of Abused and Neglected Children with Their Families: A Case-FIle Audit. The British Journal of Social Work, 45(8), pp. 2261-2280. ISSN 0045-3102 [Article]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

Based on the underlying principle that all children have the right to be cared for by their birth family wherever it is safe to do so, this practitioner research study examined what works in family reunification practices for abused and neglected looked after children. The research used a case-file audit to explore the characteristics of forty-three children successfully returned home in one metropolitan local authority, and how social work practice contributed to this success. This paper considers how assessment, decision making and planning inform the types of support and monitoring provided, and how this affects outcomes for reunified children. The study found that certain factors characterise successful reunions. Children tend to be young in age, have short, stable care experiences and have consistent family contact prior to return. Whilst assessment and planning prior to reunification were inconsistent, the provision of services was generally good, successfully supporting children to remain at home. Areas for improvement were identified in the provision of therapeutic and culturally specific services for families, and in addressing under and over-representations of certain groups of children within reunification policy and practice. The findings of the study are being directly implemented through a pilot reunification panel in the study authority.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Family reunification, looked after children, practitioner research, reunification outcomes

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)


1 June 2014Accepted
19 September 2014Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

01 Aug 2018 12:34

Last Modified:

22 Jun 2020 12:38

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


Edit Record Edit Record (login required)