Effective Date: 7-2-2021
The standards for visitation contained in the section below are meant to enhance and increase the bond between the parent, child, and siblings. These standards should be considered by the Family Support Team (FST) 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. The roles and responsibilities of the FST should be agreed upon and written in the visitation plan documented in FACES. This can involve contact with the resource provider, treatment resources, relatives, 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 in FACES. 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.
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. Sibling visits should occur at least one time per month.
Whenever possible, visits should occur in the parental home or in a homelike environment. This may include the home of the resource provider, unless safety of the child, provider 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. For example a parent could 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 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 a parent is institutionalized or incarcerated, 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.
If the court has denied visitation between parents and/or siblings, the treatment plan should address what needs to occur prior to a recommendation to allow visitation. When it has been determined that TPR will occur, and is in the best interest of the child, a closing visit should occur between child and the parent(s), if possible and allowed by the Court.
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.”
10.3.1 Parent Criminal History
When a parent discloses or a worker/team member discovers that the parent has a criminal history that meets the 210.117 RSMo criteria, and/or the parent is incarcerated, the team shall discuss and make a recommendation to the court regarding continued visitation between the subject parent and their child, as well as include the need to emphasize concurrent planning. These recommendations should only be made when safety structures have been put in place to ensure the child’s safety during visits related to contact with family, including the parent with the criminal history.