Nurses Make Home Visits to Help Children Leaving Foster Care Reunite with Their Families


SALEM — In Eugene a mother needs help – her child is coming home from foster care and she has complex medical needs. The mom wants to make sure she is doing everything right.

In John Day a teenager, who is being reunified with his parents, needs to make sure his family understands about how to help when he experiences depression. 

In Tillamook, a child in foster care is going back home to her parents. They all want a successful reunification but feel they need a little help during the transition.

These are some of the requests that a Child Welfare Registered Nurse gets for an in-home assessment from children and parents who are in trial reunifications. Reunification means that child is returning home, usually from foster care. The transition can be difficult for both child and parent. The nurses are there to help.

Erica Zaluskey and Vanessa Rutherford, both Child Welfare Registered Nurses, are ready to help.

The in-home nursing assessment for trial reunifications is a relatively new aspect of the Child Welfare Health and Wellness Program beginning in July 2018. From July 2018 through August 2019 the program sent referrals for 1,510 children. It has received in-home nursing assessments for 1,013 children and 744 parents or caregivers. There are 22 Registered Nurses in the program.

“Our goal is to have a successful reunification. We want to support the child and the parent,” said Rebecca Long, Child Welfare nurse consultant.

The nurses visit the families and assess them for home safety, healthy eating, trauma and how it may have affected the child or parent, addiction and mental illness, and other issues that may put the reunification at risk. Children 10 or older are assessed for depression; youth 12 and older are provided sexual health information. They provide education and materials to help the families through a Wellness Toolkit. 

They often provide referrals to community services that can help support the health and well-being of the family. 

“Often families don’t know what resources are out there. We can help,” she said.

The Health and Wellness program works with children and families to foster relationships with families who may be struggling and need resources and education to hopefully prevent abuse and neglect. The program also includes:

  • A personal care services assessment for children with identified medical needs, and
  • Intake RN assessments and services for the initial assessment of children coming into foster care or returning into care after a failed re-unification with parent.

“We come alongside and support the parents and the child,” Long said.

If you have questions about Child Welfare Health and Wellness Services, please contact Heidi Beaubriand, R.N., B.S.N., Program Manager,; 503-947-1187.

About Author

Christine Decker Stone, Department of Human Services Communications Officer. The Department of Human Services vision is: Safety, health and independence for all Oregonians.

Comments are closed.