Visitation is the right of the family, including the child and the parent, in cases in which visitation is in the best interest of the child. Early, consistent, and frequent visitation is crucial for maintaining parent-child relationships and making it possible for parents and children to safely reunify. The supervising agency or department shall encourage the maximum parent, child, and sibling contact possible, when it is in the best interest of the child, including regular visitation and participation by the parents in the care of the child while the child is in placement.
Visitation shall not be limited as a sanction for a parent’s failure to comply with court orders or services where the health, safety, or welfare of the child is not at risk as a result of the visitation. Visitation may be limited or denied only if the court determines that such limitation or denial is necessary to protect the child’s health, safety, or welfare. The court and the department, or supervising agency should rely upon community resources, relatives, foster parents, and other appropriate persons to provide transportation and supervision to the extent that such resources are available, appropriate, and the child’s safety would not be compromised.
Please refer to RCW 13.34 relating to various issues with visitation which may arise during the Dependency Process.
Visitation is crucial to the Dependency process:
- Maintenance of attachments and primary role of the parents
- Validation for the parent(s) and child that both are continuing to work toward return home of the child
- Assurance to the child that he/she has not been abandoned or kidnapped
- An opportunity for the parent(s) to observe and practice positive parenting skills
- When appropriate and possible, contact between the foster parent(s) or caregiver(s) and parent(s).
Supervised or Monitored Visitation…who decides?
The Protection and Safety Worker should determine if supervision or monitoring of visits is needed based on the risk to the child, the case plan, or court order. Supervision or monitoring of visits is useful in assuring that the child is protected and in permitting observation of parent-child interaction. If the risk is unknown, the worker will assure that supervision is provided until the risk can be determined. Unnecessary supervision should be avoided. The worker may arrange for a relative, family friend, foster parent, family support provider, or other appropriate person to supervise or monitor visits. The worker will advise any person supervising visits of his/her role and responsibilities (such as intervening if risk to the child. Modeling or teaching parenting skills and is prepared to assume the role).