Submitted by, Linnea Anderson, Juvenile Court Administrator.
San Juan County, Washington – During the month of June, San Juan County joins Washington State in celebrating Family Reunification Month, which honors the many families who have successfully reunified after having a child removed due to a child dependency (or child welfare) action. San Juan County Council issued a proclamation on June 15, 2021 in honor of Family Reunification Month, “San Juan County recognizes the vital importance of families, as well as parents’ fundamental rights to parent their children, and children’s fundamental rights to nurturing, healthy and safe environments.” Read by Council Chair, Jamie Stephens.
The goal of Washington State’s child dependency system is to safely reunify children with their families. Most children in our state are reunified with their parents after the parents receive support and services to alleviate the reasons the child became dependent. During Family Reunification Month we celebrate the parents who have put in the hard work and effort required to reunify with their children. We also honor the efforts of relatives, social workers, treatment providers, foster families, court staff, attorneys, educators, Volunteer Guardians ad Litem, and community partners, who help create a safe environment for dependent children to return to their families of origin.
“We understand the crucial bonds that children share with their parents. Family Reunification Month celebrates the successes of the dependency system—the safe support of children remaining with their parents while parents seek necessary skills and support, and the return of children temporarily removed from homes when necessary to allow parents to get the help they need. Reunification is possible only due to the dedication and hard work of all involved—starting with the parents,” shared Superior Court Judge, Kathryn Loring.
Stephanie Goudelock is the Coordinator and Parent Ally for the Parent for Parent program which supports parents and is a new partner with San Juan County Juvenile Court Services. The Parent for Parent Program, based at Brigid Collins in Mt. Vernon, provides training to help parents navigate the dependency system. Parent for Parent also provides mentoring to help parents reunify with their children. Mrs. Goudelock successfully navigated the dependency system, herself, and was reunified with her children on March 23, 2017! She is, therefore, uniquely qualified to support other parents who find themselves in this position. Mrs. Goudelock commended San Juan County’s recognition of Family Reunification Month and said she wants other parents to know, “reunification is possible.”
As part of the Family Reunification Month, the San Juan County Volunteer Guardian ad Litem Program is providing quarterly training for existing volunteers titled “Reunification and Resources.” This training will reinforce their role in seeking family reunification in their work as court-appointed representatives of the “child’s best interests” in child dependency cases.
The Volunteer Guardian ad Litem Program is seeking new volunteers. If you are interested in learning more, please contact the Volunteer Guardian ad Litem Program Coordinator, Cheryl Kringle, at 360-206-9709 or email email@example.com.
If you are interested in more information about the Parent for Parent Program, please contact Stephanie Goudelock, Coordinator at her email: SGOUDELOCK@brigidcollins.org or cell phone: 206-549-8202.