Department for Community Based Services

Standards of Practice Online Manual

4.19 Visitation Agreement

Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Department for Community Based Services
Division of Protection and Permanency
Standards of Practice Online Manual
Chapter:
Chapter 4-Out of Home Care Services (OOHC)
Effective:
11/18/2015
Section:
4.19 Visitation Agreement
Version:
4

When a section of SOP has been revised users will see the following: Added {This is added material}, Deleted {This is deleted material}. The bold and strikethroughs will appear on the site for fifteen (15) days after a modification and will then be removed.

Legal Authority/Introduction

LEGAL AUTHORITY:

 

Procedure

Creating and Maintaining the Visitation Agreement

The SSW:

  1. Negotiates and signs with the family, caregiver or placement provider a visitation agreement regarding visitation arrangements with parent(s), siblings, relatives and others that are important to the child during the initial case planning conference;
  2. Reviews the visitation agreement with the participants, at minimum, during each subsequent periodic review of the case plan and revisions are made as appropriate;
  3. Negotiates the frequency of visits depending on the parent(s) circumstances and the child’s age, however at minimum:
    1. Within the first week of placement; and
    2. Every two (2) weeks;
  4. Documents any FSOS approved exception regarding the frequency of visits in the case record;
  5. Follows procedures outlined below after the agreement has been negotiated and signed;
  6. Follows the procedures outlined in SOP 4.18 Ongoing Case Planning when visitation arrangements need modification prior to a periodic review.

 

The FSOS:

  1. Must approve any exceptions to the minimum standards regarding frequency of visits between parent and child.

The SRA or regional office designee:

  1. Must approve visits between the child, parents and/or siblings in the DCBS office, unless the court has ordered supervised visits.

Visitation

  1. The SSW, Social Services Aide (SSA) or contracted agency staff (where applicable) will supervise visits, however in some special case appropriate situations the foster/adoptive parents, relatives or other persons deemed appropriate may supervise visits, upon approval by the FSOS or designee.

The SSW or designee: 

  1. Uses the Visitation Checklist/Summary to document observations, behaviors and required interventions during the supervised visit;
  2. Uses the developmentally age appropriate activities chart found on the OOHC Visitation Tip Sheet to assist and guide the parent(s) in thinking about developmentally age appropriate activities that the child will enjoy and promote healthy attachment;
  3. Encourages the parent to attend medical appointments, school conferences and other activities in which the child is involved;
  4. Documents each visit in the service recording, including observations of parent-child interactions before, during, and after the visit, when it is supervised;
  5. Documents the child’s behavior prior to and after visits, as well as, the caregiver’s observations;
  6. Documents a visit that is not kept, cancelled, or rescheduled;
  7. Notes the change on the visitation agreement and sends the revised agreement to all parties when a visit is rescheduled (this is the duty of the SSW).

The FSOS: 

  1. Grants prior approval for visit cancellations, unless the parent requests cancellation of a visit however the FSOS may grant emergency cancellation and or rescheduling for: 1
    1. Illness;
    2. Inclement weather; or
    3. Other unforeseeable emergencies.

The SSW: 

  1. Occasionally observes visits if visits are not normally supervised;
  2. Seeks prior written approval from the SRA or designee to suspend a visit if there exists reasonable cause to believe that visitation between a child and a parent or sibling is detrimental to the child’s health, welfare, or physical or emotional condition;
  3. Documents the circumstances regarding any suspension, including:
    1. The person(s) involved;
    2. Their relationship to the child;
    3. The reason for the suspension; and
    4. The length of the suspension.

Practice Guidance

  • The SSW is aware that continuing and timely visits between the child, parent(s) and siblings is crucial for the maintenance of psychological connections.
  • Visits are designed to:
    • Improve the parent(s), including identified fathers as outlined in SOP 4.15 Family Attachment and Involvement, and child’s relationship;
    • Reassure the child and the parent(s) of the prospect for reunification; and
    • To demonstrate appropriate parenting skills.
  • The SSW is aware the parent(s) have the right to petition the court for review of the visitation agreement when they are dissatisfied with the visitation schedule/arrangements. 
  • The SSW should make every effort to schedule a visit at least one time per week, if possible.  For infants and young children visits should be scheduled two (2) to three (3) times per week in order to facilitate attachment.
  • The length of the visit should be at least one (1) hour.
  • The length of the visit should give the parent and child sufficient time to interact and practice skills they have learned and work on the issues that resulted in the child entering care.
  • Approval by the SRA or regional office designee is required to hold visits in the office, unless the court has ordered that the visits be supervised.  The SSW should document in the case record why visits are not being held in the home (i.e. unsafe physical environment, safety risk to staff, court ordered supervision, etc.).
  • The visitation agreement should document who will be supervising the visit (i.e. SSW, Social Service Aid, etc.) and who can and cannot visit with the child.
  • Participants such as grandparents, family friends and previous caregivers should be included in some visits if the child requests their presence, and it does not place the child at risk or compromise the achievement of case planning goals.} 
 

Footnotes

  1. Visits are not cancelled or rescheduled because of unexpected problems in staff schedules.

Communicate

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