May 22nd, 2008
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One of our readers asked a great question that many foster parents wonder about, at least initially. I responded to her privately but thought I would address her question more fully and share the information with you. Her foster children are in the process of returning home, as is my current foster daughter. She would like to know what the guidelines are for the number of overnight and unsupervised visits prior to foster children returning home. Unfortunately, there are no guidelines for every foster caseworker to follow. There are logical patterns that they sometimes follow, and I’ll tell you about those. However, the court can order, whatever the court wants to order.


Here is a copy of the reader’s question.

Our foster children just recently started unsupervised visits and will start the over nights in the next few weeks. Does anyone know the guidelines as to how long these visits occur before the children are sent back? They currently visit twice a week for four hrs at the mothers apt and are not allowed to leave. The next permanency hearing is June 16th and I am wondering the odds of them going back that day. The mother is having her third child on the 10th just 6 days before court and the father is not to be around the two in custody. Thanks, Sarita

Usually, if foster children are able to return home after less than about three months in foster care, they won’t need overnight visits first. They can return to their parents on the date it is ordered. However, if the foster children have been in foster care for a long time, it may not be appropriate just to send them home on a moments notice. Of course, that also depends on the age of the children involved, a teenager might just return home immediately too, without overnight visits.

The typical pattern, for young children who have been in care for approximately a year or more, is to begin increasing weekly visitation. This is because for the past year, the children may have been spending just one hour a week with the parents. Visits could be increased to twice a week, and then an overnight, a weekend or two, and then return home. Sometimes, the parents have a service involved that helps them learn skills in budgeting, housekeeping, and parenting. If the court has ordered this service, then children would not return home until the service is available. This type of service organization sometimes has a waiting list.

While this is an ideal scenario to get the parents and children used to living together again, it doesn’t always happen that way for numerous reasons. Reasons might include, court order, foster parent request, child request, or a host of other possibilities.

Related topic
When Foster Children Begin Extended Parental Visits

Photo Credit: 2005 Julia Fuller.

5 Responses to “Guidelines for Foster Children Returning Home”

  1. Chance says:

    Just to give my 2 cents. We had a foster daughter who came to us at 6 months old and left 11 months later. She had no home visits, no overnight visits. She had 2 visits a week for 2 hours (that she was not showing up for on a regular basis). Judge ruled that the child (then 18months) be returned that day. So there was no tranition for this poor baby.

  2. jewels1967 says:

    I’d like to know how these judges define a family ?? These judges and family service workers are so pro “family reunification”…when a child grows up in your home. Who is the REAL family ??

  3. jewels1967 says:

    It has been my experience that ALOT of it is up to the caseworker. If they feel that the parent is not “case compliant” they will not make the recommendation that the child goes home and HOPEFULLY the judge doesn’t read anything or see any reason to go against the caseworker’s recommendations.

  4. says:

    I was going to adopt a perteen in to my home . but we whas to told about her prolmd intel she was live with and by that time we love and in the state of washington we have go thorw all thing to adopt like the it was the frist time we had to send out all background chesk and the paper wrok to all the family and friand that we send to befor and to the end my humder one day after adout just over six mont of her hurt me and hurt my mom . brian he come into the bathroom ware was hut me in the arm with the sting of her coat and brian grap her arm and lfe nial make nial make. by ackdit so the dch come and tack her away I am not saying that graph her arm was the bast thing to do but all the time that she hut me and kikd my he feel that was get hurt by this child and the state ia now make us go thrwo ainvger for child abuse foster to adopt pastn of know way of know what to od when the child is act up in the way of hiting the past becuse the state say you made not put your hand on them

  5. cerrajeros 24 horas cabrils…

    Guidelines for Foster Children Returning Home – Foster Care…

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