Risk and Protective Factors of Foster Care Reentry: An Examination of the Literature

Annette Semanchin Jones, Traci LaLiberte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Reunification with family is a primary goal in child welfare. However, some children re-enter foster care after reunification, which disrupts the continuity of their care and can impact their cognitive and social development. Using an ecological framework, this systematic review of the literature highlights the risk and protective factors of reentry. Key risk factors included child emotional and behavioral challenges, parental substance abuse, and short lengths of stay in foster care. Protective factors included placement with kin, social support, effective implementation of risk and safety assessments, and targeted pre- and post-reunification services. Understanding who is at greater risk and identifying points of intervention can help child welfare agencies develop, target, and evaluate their services more effectively. As new interventions develop, there is a great need for more research to evaluate their effectiveness and to scale-up evidence-informed practices that can help to prevent reentry to foster care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)516-545
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Public Child Welfare
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Oct 20 2017

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© 2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Foster care re-entry


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