Visit Coaching

About This Program

Target Population: Parents whose child(ren) are living in foster care and see them only during visits

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 17

Program Overview

Visit Coaching (developed by Marty Beyer, PhD), also called Family Time Coaching, is fundamentally different from supervised visits because the focus is on the strengths of the family and the needs of the children. Visit Coaching supports families to meet the unique needs of each child during their family time in the community, family homes, visit centers, or offices. Visit Coaching includes:

  • Helping parents understand the unique developmental needs of their child and demonstrate that understanding during visits with their child
  • Preparing parents for their children's separation- (and trauma-) related needs and reactions during visits
  • Helping parents give their children their full attention at each visit
  • Building on the parent's strengths in meeting each child’s needs
  • Helping parents visit consistently and keep their sadness, anger, and other issues out of the visit

Program Goals

The goals of Visit Coaching are:

  • Parents articulating each of their children’s unique needs
  • Parents meeting their children’s developmental, separation- and trauma-related, and safety needs during visits
  • Parents keeping their own issues from distracting them from giving their children their full attention during visits

Logic Model

View the Logic Model for Visit Coaching.

Essential Components

The essential components of Visit Coaching include:

  • Visit Plan Meeting (prior to starting Visit Coaching)
    • Ensure that the parent takes ownership of their family time
    • Draw their children's needs out of the parent
    • Validate the parent's concerns and help the parent plan how to keep their worries from getting in the way of giving their full attention to their child
  • Pre-visit Coaching (at the beginning of each visit)
    • Remind the parent of each child's needs to be met during the visit
  • Coaching During the Visit
    • Support the parent in being responsive to each child's individual needs without directing parenting
    • Support the parent in keeping their issues from getting in the way of being responsive to their children's needs
    • Appreciate the family's culture and unique ways of meeting their children's needs
    • Support co-parenting if more than one adult is visiting the child
  • Post-visit Debrief (at the end of each visit)
    • Help the parent assess their responsiveness to each of their children's needs in the visit
    • Help the parent appreciate how they could more effectively meet their child's need
  • Partnering
    • Encourage Shared Parenting defined as communication between parent and caregiver (foster parent/kin) about the child’s needs
    • Encourage regular meetings of parent-caseworker-visit coach to review child's needs and how parent is meeting them and ensure parent understanding of the importance of both visits that meet the child's needs and lifestyle changes that will address the child's unmet safety needs that brought them into care

Program Delivery

Parent/Caregiver Services

Visit Coaching directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Parents with children in foster care who may have difficulty meeting the children's needs during visits; children may have difficulties with attachment and adjustment to separation from family
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: Visit Coaching occurs only in family visits with children in foster care so the children are involved.

Recommended Intensity:

1- to 3-hour family visit at least once per week, but can occur as often as three times per week

Recommended Duration:

Varies with the family, about 3-6 months

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Birth Family Home
  • Community Daily Living Setting
  • Foster / Kinship Care
  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • Other
  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)


This program does not include a homework component.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

If the coached visits are inside, visit rooms must have child-friendly furniture; space for activities; music, books, art supplies, and toys appropriate for the child’s age; and clean, comfortable floors for young children. In family homes, parents, caregivers, and/or coaches can include play supplies.

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

No minimum requirements other than training and experience. Visit Coaches have had Master's or Bachelor's degrees, but many have had years of experience with children and do not have degrees

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Program Manual(s)

Manual information:

It is available at Training is also required to become a trained visit coach (see below).

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

On-site, arranged with each site to include visit coach trainees and their supervisors.

Most Visit Coaching/Family Time Coaching programs are providers on contract with the public child welfare agency, typically in individual counties. Some locations implemented Visit Coaching within the child welfare office, training staff who had formerly supervised visits.

Number of days/hours:

Visit Coaches receive a 2-day training program provided by Marty Beyer, PhD, or Auguste Elliott, PhD, followed by one day of group supervision where coaches present their work with families and refine their approaches. Dr. Beyer & Dr. Elliott are also available to continue to provide supervision for coaches by video conference and to support the implementation team at each Visit Coaching site.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Fischer, S., Harris, E., Smith, H. S., & Polivka, R. J. (2020). Family Visit Coaching: Improvement in parenting skills through coached visitation. Children and Youth Services Review, 119, Article 105604.

Type of Study: One-group pretest-posttest study
Number of Participants: 106 parents


  • Age — Parents: 18 years and older; Children: 0-17 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Parents: 60% Female and 40% Male; Children: 48% Female and 52% Male
  • Gender — Parents: 45% White, 27% Hispanic/Latinx, 17% Black/African American, 8% Asian/Pacific Islander, and 3% Missing; Children: 44% White, 33% Hispanic/Latinx, 18% Black/African American, and 4% Asian/Pacific Islander
  • Status — Participants were parents who have at least one child in out-of-home care in San Diego County.

Location/Institution: San Diego County

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the Family Visit Coaching (FVC) model [now called Visit Coaching] as an alternative to traditional child welfare visitation to build pragmatic parenting skills and improve parental emotional capacity to engage with their children. Measures utilized include a San Diego County adaptation of the Parenting Skills Assessment, 10th edition. Results indicated that there was a statistically significant improvement in parenting and a statistically significant association between each additional visit and improved parenting skills on specific measures. Limitations include the study was limited to examining parenting skills among parents who were referred to FVC by their County of San Diego child welfare caseworkers; program dosage was limited to number of visits, not the number of hours of the visits; the study did not use randomized design, so it is unknown whether the parents in this study are typical of the county’s overall child welfare population; It is also possible that the coaches who completed the assessment were biased in their assessments of the parents or biased in perceiving improvement in parenting behaviors. Interrater reliability was not assessed in this study, lack of a control or comparison group, and lack of follow-up.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: None.

Additional References

Casey Family Programs. (2020, May). How can frequent, quality family time promote relationships and permanency? Strategy Brief: Strong Families.

Children’s Bureau, Administration of Children and Families. (2020). Information memorandum on the importance of family time and visitation for children in out-of-home care.

Department for Children and Families; Family Services Division. (2014, December). Initial caregivers meeting, shared parenting meetings and family time practice guidance.

Contact Information

Marty Beyer, PhD

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: May 2022

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: June 2021

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: May 2017