While children are in out-of-home care placements, it is important to maintain connections with their birth families. Family time, also known as parent-child visits, is essential for healthy child development and can help maintain parent-child attachment; reduce a child’s sense of abandonment; provide a sense of belonging; and decrease depression, anxiety, and problem behaviors in children. Parent-child visits are a key strategy to minimizing time in out-of-home care and working toward reunification of the family. Resources include State and local examples.
Family Time and Visitation for Children and Youth in Out-of-Home Care
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau (2020)
Provides research on best practices and recommendations for providing high quality family time and visitation that strengthens the family, expedites reunification time, and improves parent and child well-being.
How Can Frequent, Quality Family Time Promote Relationships and Permanency?
Casey Family Programs (2020)
Explores how parent-child connections are important for children's well-being and how quality family time correlates with successful reunification. The resource reviews the benefits of quality time, lists negative consequences for children and parents who do not maintain regular connections, reviews how to structure effective family visits, and more.
Reunification: Bringing Your Children Home From Foster Care
Supporting the Relationship (PDF - 455 KB)
Children’s Trust Fund Alliance, Birth and Foster Parent Partnership (2020)
Explains the benefits of foster parent/kinship caregiver support for regular, positive family visits between children in out-of-home care and their birth families.
Tips for Supporting Virtual Family Time
Using Media Effectively With Young Children and Virtual Visitation [Webinar]
Florida's Center for Child Welfare (2020)
Presents a two-part webinar series hosted by Dr. Rachal Barr on information, tips, and strategies for using remote and virtual communication to strengthen and maintain relationships between children and their families.
Virtual Family Time: Tips for Families
Virtual Parent-Child Visitation in Support of Family Reunification in the Time of COVID-19
Singer & Brodzinsky (2020)
Examines the importance of parent-child visitation to reunification and permanency planning and describes the use of virtual visitation and its effectiveness.
Family Time Practice Guide: A Guide to Providing Appropriate Family Time for Children in Foster Care (PDF - 785 KB)
Georgia Supreme Court Committee on Justice for Children & JC4 Court Improvement Initiative (2019)
Outlines best practices for maintaining important connections between children in out-of-home care and their families through family time, the benefits of family time, and suggestions and considerations when planning.
Family Time: Supportive Virtual Family Time Program and Training (eLearning)
Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence at the University of Washington
Presents an online course that aims to help child welfare workers and others develop skills to support quality virtual family time for parent(s), caregiver(s), and children in out-of-home care.
Topical Brief: Sources of Best Practices for Parent-Child Visitation (PDF - 820 KB)
Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families (2021)
Offers strategies, practices, and resources to expand and increase the capacity, effectiveness, and reliability of parent-child visitation for children in out-of-home care in Washington.
Virtual Visitation Guidelines: Guidance and Resources to Support Virtual Parenting Time (PDF - 227 KB)
Arizona Department of Child Safety (2020)
Provides a guide to help prepare parents and caregivers for virtual parenting time and offers tips on how to make virtual family time successful.
Visitation (PDF - 232 KB)
Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (2018)
Outlines the purpose of parent-child visitation and its importance to permanency. The guide presents information on how to engage fathers, explains foster parents' role in visitation, and more.