In Philadelphia, roughly 43% children and youth re-enter foster care within twelve months of being reunited with their families. This is compared to the statewide rate of 28.6%. The development and stability of these children is severely impacted by the upheaval, uncertainty, and emotional distress of returning to foster care soon after reuniting with their parents.
Through her Stoneleigh Fellowship, Wanja Ogongi worked with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (CLS) to research the recurrent and systemic challenges that families face before and after reunification, with the goal of informing CLS’ policy and advocacy work. Wanja analyzed existing research on reunification and conducted original qualitative research with a sample of parents, filling a significant gap in child welfare literature. She identified problems that families face both before and after reunification that contribute to foster care re-entry. In addition, she captured information and perspectives on the effectiveness of various transitional and post-reunification services.