Date of Conferral





Human Services


Dr. Barbara Benoliel


For women in recovery from complex trauma and substance abuse, the lack of posttreatment family reunification services such as family engagement, service delivery, and aftercare planning increase the likelihood of parental relapse and children reentering foster care. A primary caregiver's continued relapse can lead to longer out of home placement for minor children and a loss of parental rights, with a negative impact on both children and parents. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to examine the lived experiences of women in recovery, their sobriety practices, and how they reunified their families. The theoretical framework was Herman's trauma and recovery model. The research question focused on gaining a broader understanding of the complexities of substance abuse recovery among single-parenting women with trauma histories and their efforts to achieve and sustain family reunification. Data were obtained from interviews of 10 participants using an audio recording device and open-ended interview questions. Five themes emerged through analysis using open and axial coding: (a) choosing to remain sober, (b) cultivating and connecting, (c) trust and discovery, (d) trauma histories, and (e) aftercare and maintenance. Results indicated a possible connection between foster care recidivism and outdated aftercare services and practices. Improved aftercare practices could increase sustainability of reunified families and decrease the likelihood of relapse among caregivers in recovery. This study impacts social change by informing policy makers on state and federal levels of the needs of recovering parents and their families.