[Supv. Kuehl] – When children are placed in the care of foster parents, the courts often require visitation with biological parents to help maintain familial relationships and pave the way for potential reunification. However, family visitation requirements can pose a daunting burden for prospective foster parents. Mandatory family visits may occur more than once a week for 1-3 hours per visit. Many prospective and willing foster parents do not think they will be able to transport and monitor these visits, and that concern can dissuade them from opening their home to a vulnerable child at a time of great need.
On Tuesday, as part of the County’s efforts to remove the barriers facing potential and current foster parents and relative caregivers (together known as resource families), the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion authored by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Michael D. Antonovich. The motion calls on the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to develop a plan within 90 days to best support children, foster families and parents in meeting family visitation requirements. The plan will explore current staffing needs, the feasibility of contracting with ride-sharing services, expanding the number of family-friendly visitation sites, and opportunities to improve the quality of the visits and parenting skills through supportive visitation models.
“Because we already ask so much of our current and prospective resource families, it’s important that the County be as supportive as possible to those who are stepping up to provide a temporary, safe and loving home for our kids. This motion moves us in the right direction toward providing the kind of resources our caregivers need,” said Supervisor Kuehl.
Family visitation has been consistently linked to positive outcomes, and is the number one factor in effectively impacting family reunification. This ongoing contact not only helps parents improve and gain confidence in their parenting skills, but also improves the social and emotional health of the child. In turn, the length of time spent in foster care and the number of placements they experience decreases.
“A major goal of the child welfare system is to reduce foster care placements and achieve permanency for children,” said Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. “Through this motion, the County will create additional successful visitation programs that include mentorship and help ensure shorter stays in out-of-home placements and greater chances for reunification. Family visitation programs, including the one created by All Saints Church, are an important part of the reunification effort and a testament to the benefits of partnerships with the faith-based community, where we can achieve better outcomes for families.”
This is the latest in a series of motions authored by Supervisor Kuehl designed to support kinship care providers. The Supervisor is also the Chair of First Five LA.