Visitation Policy & Practice in Texas

Katherine Barillas, Ph.D.
Director, Child Welfare Policy
One Voice Texas
[email protected]
Current Policy
Only in CPS policy; removed from Texas Administrative
Code due to federal “reasonable efforts” standard
 Right to regular contact (exceptions include):
 Court restrictions (i.e. aggravated circumstances)
 Formal relinquishment
 Termination
 Appearing to be under the influence
 Minimum of once a month
Current Policy
 Variety of stakeholders should be involved in decision
 Frequency of visits based on needs of the child, need for
supervision etc.
 Location and type of visit can vary
 Worker, parents and caretakers should make arrangements
for contact
Challenges of Current Policy
 Setting a minimum policy and lack of strengths based
 Little guidance to caseworkers in determining type,
location, frequency, and level of supervision
 Visitation plan is part of Family Plan of Service which isn’t
due to the court until day 45
 No set process for addressing challenges to visitation
Best Practice
In Other States
 Infants = 1x a day
 Incarcerated parents (SC)
 Toddlers = 2-3x a week
 Focus on anywhere but
 Initial visit very soon after
 Allowing the parent and
child opportunities to have
positive and productive
office (KY)
 Foster parents actively
involved (TN)
 Not to reward or punish
Senate Bill 352 (West/Gonzalez)
• Requires DFPS to provide the opportunity for a visit to
take place within 72 hours of the child’s removal and, in
cooperation with the parent(s), to develop a temporary
visitation schedule between this visit and the 30 day
• Requires formal visitation plan by the 30 day hearing.
Senate Bill 352
• Visitation plans and their outcomes should be
regularly reviewed at each permanency court hearing
and the court should examine the need for
supervision of visitation to be reduced as it is safe
to do so.
• If there are challenges to visitation, the court
should review why that is the case and what specific
steps can be taken to try to resolve any potential
Senate Bill 352
 DFPS should attempt to employ the use of volunteers
including those directly engaged with DFPS and those
who work for organizations that serve children in state
 The standard criminal CPS and criminal background
checks should be employed.
What Should We Work Towards?
 Daily visitation for infants and 2-3x a week for toddlers
 Visit coaching
 Peer support from foster parents
 Visits for children in PMC and after termination
 DFPS is committed to change
 Oversight committee and three workgroups starting in
 Partnership between DFPS and external partners essential
 Resources are an issue
 Tools for assessment and guidance for caseworkers and
other stakeholders

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