Reunification-Therapeutic Family Time
The Reunification-Therapeutic Family Time program began in January 2015.
RTFT staff work with families whose children have been removed by the Department of Children and Families. There are three services provided in this program. Families can receive any combination of these services, depending on their needs.
Master’s level clinicians provide 4 week reunification readiness assessments, to help DCF determine whether families are currently ready to reunify safely and what additional supports would be helpful to facilitate reunification. Master’s and Bachelor’s level staff provide the reunification services offered in this program. The reunification component of the program can last 4-6 months. During this service component, staff members help families to learn the skills they need to safely and effectively parent their children and to achieve lasting reunification. These services generally start while children are still out of the home and continue for the first several months of reunification. Staff also help to identify additional necessary therapeutic and concrete supports and ensure that all needed services are in place prior to the end of services.
Families who are not yet ready to reunify can be referred into the Therapeutic Family Time component of the program which lasts for up to 12 weeks. All staff are trained in the evidence-based Visit Coaching model. Visit coaching is informed by an understanding of the vital importance of facilitating and/or strengthening parent/child attachments, which have often been compromised by both the removal and the events necessitating the removal. Visit coaching involves the staff member meeting with the parent before the visit to help prepare them for that day’s visit. A crucial part of this is helping parents learn to manage their stress and pain in ways which allow them to be fully present to meet their child’s needs during the visit.
During therapeutic family time, the staff coaches the parent and the children to help reunify or maintain/repair their relationships. After the visit, the staff meets with the parent to discuss how the visit went and to plan for the next visit. The New London County team comprised of 4 clinicians and 2 community workers. The Middlesex County team is comprised of 1 clinician and 1 – 2 community workers. The staff carry a case load of 6 – 10 families and provide transportation for the children or parents.