Visitation ServicesWith Children in Agency Custody
Visitation with your child on a regular basis while they are in foster care is very important! Questions most frequently asked by families about visitation are listed below.
Where will I visit?
The place your visit occurs will depend upon your case plan. It may occur at the Hope House Visitation Center located at 660 West Earle Avenue in Youngstown or in the Children Services offices and begin with an orientation meeting. As you progress on your case plan, visits may take place at the home of a relative or in your own home.
If you visit in a visitation room, it will look much like a living room with a sofa or chairs and toys and games or books. We encourage you to spend this time doing something with your child. Since children love to play games, make things, or read books, all of these activities will be available for you and your child.
Sometimes, you may want to ask your child to bring homework or a project with them so that you can work on this together during your visit.
Who will be there?
You and your child or children will be in the visitation room. Sometimes a caseworker may be in the room with you. Sometimes, if the caseworker is not in the room, they may be monitoring the visit through a two-way window located in some of the rooms. Sometimes, other people may watch your visit such as a lawyer or Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).
We have supervised visits in the office in order to monitor the visits to make sure the visit is a good experience. The monitor may also help if you and your child are having some problems.
Who can visit?
It is very important that your child spends this visitation time with you. The single most important thing you can do for your child while he or she is in foster care is visit regularly.
For this reason, relatives who have not lived with the child or friends should not take time away from you and your child. If other relatives want to visit, ask your caseworker ahead of time. There may be some exceptions to this rule and those will be explained to you by your caseworker.
What if I can't make a visit?
If you cannot make a scheduled visit, or if you will be late, please call and let us know as far in advance as you can. You should ask for your caseworker, the supervisor, or the program administrator (in that order) to let someone know so the visit can be canceled. It is much easier to cancel a visit than to disappoint a child who is here waiting for their parent.
If you do not come to your scheduled visit 15 minutes after the visit was to start, and we have not heard from you, we will assume you are not coming and return your child to the foster home. If you are late, the visit still cannot go past the set stopping time because other visits are held in the rooms and transportation aides must pick up other people for their visits on time. If a parent does not visit and has more than one child in different foster placements, visitation will be arranged specifically for those brothers/sisters.
How can a visit be terminated?
- If you use inappropriate language with staff in the office or with your child.
- If you have been drinking/using drugs or are otherwise acting inappropriately.
- If you are threatening to a staff member or to the child.
- There are additional rules for visitation at each facility; these rules will be reviewed with you prior to initial visitation.
What shall I bring to visits?
Please don’t feel that you have to bring something for your child each time you visit. Visits are for your special time together and not for your child to look for presents.
You may bring pictures or other special things to share with your child.
How can I help my child at visitation?
Because we have worked with many children in foster care, we know the kinds of things which make visitation positive:
- Be positive. Ask about school and other activities. Talk about what your child does for fun in the foster home. Let the child know that it is okay to like the people in the foster home. That will help them to feel better about their placement in foster care and help them adjust.
- Do structure your child’s behavior. Running about the halls or destruction of property is, of course, not acceptable. If you need assistance, please see your caseworker. Child safety is important. It is also important that you share the responsibility with your child by putting the room back in order before you leave.
- This is a special time for you and your child. Enjoy it!
- Do not say anything bad about the foster parent or the foster home in front of your child. If you have a complaint or a question, we want to help you! So, wait until the visit is over and then talk it over with your caseworker.
- Don’t talk about your problems with your child. They cannot do anything about those problems and your child will worry about you.
- Sometimes children cry when the visit is over. If this happens, assure the child that you love them and will see them again and leave quickly. Long good-byes can make it more painful for everyone.