Date of Conferral







Sandra Rasmussen


Mental illness is a problem that affects many people; however, little to almost no research relates to mental illness and reunification rates for mothers who have had their children removed from them by the child welfare system. The purpose in this study was to assess and compare reunification rates between mothers with mental illness, those with substance abuse, and those with co-occurring substance abuse and mental illness. The conceptual framework for this study was the use of the structured decision making (SDM) assessment tool in child welfare. The research questions addressed the differences in reunification rates among mothers with mental illness, substance use, and co-occurring mental illness and substance use in cases where children are removed due to neglect or abuse. This study also addressed the difference in timelines for reunification for mothers with mental illness in comparison with mothers with substance use and mothers with co-occurring substance use and mental illness in cases where children are removed due to neglect or abuse. In addition, this study addressed the dynamic assessment factors from the family assessment of needs and strengths (FANS) that predict reunification. This study used archival data related to the reunification status, reunification timelines, and the strengths and needs of the mother. A ï?£2 analysis was used to determine whether a difference exists in reunification rates between the groups. In this study, no statistical significance was found; however, the study brought to light areas for further research. This includes using larger sample sizes that cover an entire state to compare reunification rates. This can assist in program development for reunification and decrease the number of children in care.