Should ‘Visitation’ be Changed to ‘Family Time’ For Kids in Foster Care? (Pt 1)

A mom and little boy blowing bubbles together and smiling.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released a memo to all State, Tribal, and Territorial Agencies that oversee child welfare, addressing the issue of visitation for foster kids. Currently, most children in foster care whose parents aren’t a direct threat to their wellbeing, get time to visit with their parents. Sometimes (usually) it’s supervised time, and sometimes it’s not. Either way, those meager couple of hours are the only contact many of them have with their parents and former caregivers in the average week. But is it enough? Apparently not, because family time is critical

Losing your family is extremely traumatic for kids!

According to the memo, the issue of visitation needs to be addressed because “the importance of family time and visitation in reducing the trauma of removal and placement of children in out-of-home care” is critical to their wellbeing. It’s also important for maintaining the integrity of the parent-child relationship, healthy sibling relationships, and overall child and family well-being. So what exactly are they proposing that child welfare agencies around the country do to make visitation time more impactful?

“Visitations” should be treated as “family time”

The idea of a visit is a short duration stay in which two people get to see each other for a little while. It’s not a word that implies lengthy time spent together or even a goal of reunification. And yet that’s exactly what the memo points out – that visitation “seldom fulfills the needs that parents and children have for meaningful and nurturing time together.” Choosing to give families “family time” together will have a far greater impact on both the children and the parents in the long run.

What should “family time” look like?

According to the memo, family time should include activities of daily living. Instead of being a short time spent in a neutral zone where the interactions are pressured and forced, families should be allowed to spend time doing the things that kids and parents do together, like eat meals, attend school functions, and go to medical appointments.

Michigan CPS could learn a thing or two from this memo…

Michigan CPS has a long-standing reputation for taking kids away from their parents unnecessarily and fighting for termination of parental rights when it clearly isn’t in the children’s best interest. Join us next time for a look at what the feds are suggesting CPS should do, and why. Until then, if CPS contacts you in any way for any reason, call The Kronzak Firm at 866 766 5245. Our experienced, parent-centric CPS defense attorneys are standing by to help.