3rd Circuit Court to celebrate 'Family Reunification Day'

A first-ever "Family Reunification Day" will be held June 24 in conjunction with the first National Reunification Day, which is sponsored by the American Bar Association and other national organizations, according to Wayne County Circuit Chief Judge Virgil C. Smith.

The Wayne County court celebration will honor families who, despite court-ordered out-of-home care placement for their children, successfully complied with specific court requirements and were reunited with their children.

Chief Judge Smith explained that when child abuse or neglect occurs, children may be removed from their home to ensure their safety and well-being. Parents are provided with services to address the challenges that led to their children's removal. Reunification efforts take time, commitment and investment of time and resources by parent, family members, case managers, attorneys, courts and the community.

"A significant part of the work done in the Juvenile Section is to help reunite children with their families," the chief judge said. "This celebration is to honor and recognize mothers and fathers who have worked hard and overcome obstacles to change their lives and make their homes safe for their children."

The event will take place in Room 1511 at 2 p.m. in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. Chief Judge Smith, along with Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan and other distinguished guests, will honor families and their support partners. Case managers, foster parents, and relative caregivers will be recognized in addition to the families.

According to Michigan Department of Human Services Deputy Director Kathryne O'Grady, "Over 3,500 children were successfully reunited with their families in 2009. Reunification is a significant and important part of child welfare work and the preferred outcome for most children that are placed in foster care." The celebration is also aimed at promoting awareness of the importance of family reunification efforts to children in foster care.

"Under the direction of Michigan DHS Director Ismael Ahmed, MDHS has made significant progress increasing the prospects for safe reunification," said Deputy Director O'Grady. "By implementing innovative programs that utilize community resources, MDHS has significantly reduced the number of children in foster care."

Chief Judge Smith added that "All the organizations involved join in offering our heartfelt congratulations to those families that have made the safety and well being of their children their number one priority. Family Reunification Day recognizes and acknowledges the successful efforts of thousands of families that have reunited and provided for the safety of their children." He also thanked Wayne County DHS "for actively supporting this celebration, promoting the importance of family reunification throughout Wayne County."

A reception will follow the ceremony.

Published: Wed, Jun 16, 2010