Enhancing Visitation for Children and Families

“Visitation is a Right, not a Privilege”

Research shows that when children are removed from their homes, meaningful and frequent visitation with their parents and family, impacts reunification and permanency.  Visitation is shown to be one of the key indicators to expedited, safe reunification.  In 2011, the Pennsylvania State Roundtable determined that it was necessary to separate the originally combined issues of Incarcerated Parents and Visitation, recognizing that each of these issues require careful exploration and individualized attention. The years following produced guidelines, tools and training, all of which were approved by the Pennsylvania State Roundtable, to assist counties in examining their visitation practices and enhancing existing practices for children and their families.  Please click here for a listing of current Workgroup members.

Each year the Workgroup provided a detailed report and recommendations to the Pennsylvania State Roundtable.  To view the Visitation Workgroup State Roundtable Reportsclick here

The Workgroup also created the following visitation tools:

Pennsylvania’s 10 Key Components for Enhancing Visitation:

These components serve as a guiding checklist for counties assessing their current visitation practices and determine where to begin their enhancement efforts.  These 10 Key components were approved by the State Roundtable and can be found by clicking here.

Oversight Matrix and 6 Operating Principles:

While each situation must be carefully assessed, the Workgroup created an Oversight Matrix, along with 6 Operating Principles to help guide professionals to the most natural and least restrictive oversight.  These tools can be found by clicking here.

Visitation Tools specifically designed for Parents, Resource Parents, Teenagers and Young Children:

Each handbook is specifically developed according to the age of the child and to the needs of those being impacted.  Each handbook provides information about what to expect during visitation and can be found by clicking on the picture below.

Visitation Training for Professionals Working with Children and Families:

At the conclusion of the Workgroup’s accomplishments was the development of two trainings.  The first, included collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and the Child Welfare Resource Center to revise the previous visitation training curriculum for Child Welfare Professionals, titled “209:  Visitation through Reunification.”  The curriculumn was revised to include new research and information from the approved State Roundtable Visitation Reports.  The revised curriculum is scheduled to begin in 2015.  To view training updates visit the Child Welfare Resource Center’s website at

The second training was developed primarily for legal professionals and was titled “Visitation and the Courts.”  This training targeted Judges, Hearing Masters, Attorneys and Child Welfare Administrators. The training highlighted the philosophical shift that needs to occur to enhance visitation, what the law says about visitation and provided an overview of the Workgroup’s tools for implementing change in visitation practices.  By the end of 2014, this training had been provided in 5 locations across Pennsylvania and marked the conclusion of the Workgroup’s charges from the Pennsylvania State Roundtable.  To view the power point from this training click here.