§4 ch7: Begin Work With The Family/Child(ren)
7.3.3 Visitation between the Parent/Child/Sibling(s)
The standards for visitation contained in the section below are meant to enhance and increase visitation beyond the minimum required. These standards should be considered in the Family Support Team (FST)/Permanency Planning Review Team (PPRT) when developing and reviewing the visitation plan. The Children’s Service Worker is responsible for ensuring that a visitation plan for each parent and the child’s siblings is developed and implemented. It is the worker’s responsibility to assure visits are scheduled between the parents/child/sibling(s) according to the plan established by the FST/PPRT. The roles and responsibilities of the FST/PPRT should be agreed upon and written in the visitation plan. This should involve contact with the resource provider, treatment resources, relatives, kin, or other party responsible for supervising visitation. When visitation plans are not implemented and/or visits do not occur, the worker shall document such reasons on the Child Assessment and Service Plan, CS-1. A separate plan may be in place to address parental and sibling visitation. However, this does not prevent either visit from occurring on the same day in the same setting. Visitation should never be used as a reward or punishment for either a parent or child. Continued contact between the child and family is essential to maintaining and strengthening family bonds. It is recommended that visits occur weekly, or as frequently as possible, with a minimum of one time per month.
At no time should a parental and/or sibling visit be cancelled or rescheduled because of unexpected situations with the worker’s schedule; a back-up plan should be in place. When unexpected situations occur with the Children's Service Worker’s schedule, each Circuit/County should assign another CD staff to the visit to ensure that the visit is held as scheduled. However, parental or other extenuating circumstances may cause a visit to be cancelled, such as illness. Additionally, transportation alone should not prevent a child from visiting with his/her parents or siblings. When the FST/PPRT has difficulty securing a person to supervise visits, consideration should be given to utilizing community partners, i.e. relatives, resource providers, school personnel, or other Family Support Team/PPRT members to ensure that visits are held. Parental and sibling visitation should occur unless such visits are deemed contrary to the welfare of the child, by the Family Support Team/PPRT, or if prohibited by the Court.
When planning activities for siblings, consideration should be given to the children’s ages, developmental needs, schedules and routines, i.e. school. Examples of sibling activities to maintain sibling connections, include but are not limited to the following: sharing child care providers (when possible), joint counseling sessions (if appropriate), working on life books together, sleepovers, celebration of birthdays, holidays, attending school events, writing and calling each other.
Whenever possible, visits should occur in the parental home or in a homelike environment, which may include the home of the resource provider, unless safety of the child or staff is an issue. Opportunities should be provided to allow the parents to participate in their child’s normal day-to-day activities, when possible, i.e. attend parent teacher conferences, extracurricular activities, and doctor’s or dentist appointments.
Supervised visitation involves the monitoring of visits to ensure the safety of the child. Supervised visits shall occur when court ordered or if determined by the FST/PPRT that the parent/sibling is unable to assure the safety of the child. Supervised visitation should be used as an opportunity to assist the parent in enhancing his/her parental skills. If the visit is supervised by someone other than the worker, such as the resource provider or therapist, the Supervised Visitation Checklist, CD-86, should be completed and submitted to the Children’s Service Worker within three (3) days of the visit.
The parents/guardians and child (if age appropriate) should be provided with a Visitation Reaction Form, CD-85, and submitted to the Children’s Service Worker within three (3) days of the visit. (Provisions will be made for the parents/child to have stamped envelopes to return their forms to the worker.) The Visitation forms provide immediate feedback to the worker, which can be used to assess the parent/child relationship or to revise visitation plans.
If a parent is institutionalized, the worker should contact the institution regarding their visitation policy. Visitation should be scheduled in conjunction with the institution and as agreed upon by the FST/PPRT.
Occasionally, families serving in the military receive Family-Centered Services or their children come into the custody of the Children’s Division. In the event services to a child or family become necessary, staff should be aware of Missouri’s state statutes regarding these families. Section 452.412 RSMo. states "A party’s absence, relocation, or failure to comply with custody and visitation orders shall not, by itself, be sufficient to justify a modification of a custody or visitation order if the reason for the absence, relocation, or failure to comply is the party’s activation to military service and deployment out-of-state."
Chapter Memoranda History: (prior to 1/31/07)