The first phase of Reunification work is the evaluation phase. This follows the steps outlined here:
1. Both providers meet with each parent for one hour to learn about the background of the family situation.
2. The child provider meets with the children for a few sessions to assess where they are on the road to repair and to get a sense of what might be needed for them.
3. Both providers meet with the children and the parent with whom they have the fractured relationship.
Once these steps are complete, the providers will make a recommendation about which of two paths the family can most productively follow.
Path A is to have reunification sessions simply continue. We recommend this option when it seems that the children and parent will be able to work through their difficulties and that the sessions will improve the relationship.
Path B is to have both providers, both parents and their attorneys meet for a feedback and planning session. In this session, we give our feedback about the state of the family and a plan is created for how the parents will assist the children to manage the relationship difficulties they are encountering. This plan may be part of a court agreement so that there is accountability for both parents.
We consider Option B ideal for families in which the children are saddled with the burden of resolving family patterns that are largely based on the dynamics between the parents. The plan is utilized to shift the burden back to parents, and free the kids from this overwhelming responsibility.