Topic: Visitation Programs

Scientific Ratings in this topic:

1 - Well-Supported by Research Evidence

2 - Supported by Research Evidence

3 - Promising Research Evidence

4 - Evidence Fails to Demonstrate Effect

5 - Concerning Practice

NR - Not able to be Rated

Learn more about the scale

Definition for Visitation Programs:

Visitation Programs are defined by the CEBC as programs that support face-to-face contact between parents and their children who are in out-of-home care or noncustodial parents and their children who currently do not live with them. Visitation maintains parent-child relationships necessary for successful family reunification while maintaining child safety. These services are typically scheduled in advance in a neutral setting. Visits can occur on a continuum of support and may be unsupervised or may include monitoring, coaching, and/or supervision during visits. Research that has been conducted on visitation identifies maintaining parent-child relationships and other family attachments, as well as reducing the sense of abandonment that children experience during placement, as potential benefits of this type of intervention. Since 2007, the CEBC has highlighted supervised visitation programs. In order to include programs that use different types of visitation models, the CEBC revised and expanded this topic area in June 2018.

  • Target population: Families with children in out-of-home care, or families involving a noncustodial parent(s)
  • Services/types that fit: Services focused on supporting the visitation process that may occur in an office, community, or home setting; visits may be unsupervised or may include monitoring, coaching, and/or supervision during visits
  • Delivered by: Child welfare workers, social workers, foster (relative and nonrelative) parents, mental health providers, trained professionals, or paraprofessionals
  • In order to be included: Program must specifically target visitation as a goal
  • In order to be rated: There must be research evidence (as specified by the Scientific Rating Scale) that examines the outcomes of visitation services, such as decreased time to reunification, increased attachment between the parent and the child(ren), or improved parenting skills.

Programs in this Topic Area

The programs listed below have been reviewed by the CEBC and, if appropriate, been rated using the Scientific Rating Scale.

14 Programs with a Scientific Rating of NR - Not able to be Rated:

  • Eckerd Connects’ Brevard Supervised Family Visitation
    Families separated by court order due to child abuse or neglect and currently involved in the child welfare system. Parents ...
  • Families Together
    Families separated by court order and involved in the state’s child welfare system
  • FamilyConnections’ Reunity House
    Families that are separated due to allegations of child abuse and neglect and parents with children in out-of-home placement
  • Fostering Relationships
    Birth and foster parents with young children (between 6 months and 6 years) in foster care who are beginning visitation
  • Joan Sherman Program for Resilient Children, The
    Families involved in the child welfare system, receiving supervised visitation services following the child/children’s removal from the ...
  • Just Beginning (JB) Program
    Noncustodial young incarcerated fathers of children between the ages of 2 months and 3 years; can also be used with incarcerated young ...
  • kContact
    Parents of children and young people in long-term out-of-home care who have supervised contact with them
  • Keeping Kids in Mind (KKIM)
    Parents of children birth-18 years of age who are engaged in chronic medium to high conflict postseparation
  • My Kids and Me
    Parents whose children (aged 0-18) have been removed into the child protection system; either permanently or temporarily
  • Strive™ Supervised Visitation Program
    Parents of children birth to eight years of age who have been placed in out-of-home foster or relative care and ...
  • Supportive Virtual Family Time Program
    Children (from birth to 18 years of age), parents, and caregivers involved in virtual supervised family time/visits
  • Therapeutic Facilitated Visitation (TFV)
    Families with children ages birth to 18-years-old who are receiving co-occurring services (such as families with children in out-of-home placement ...
  • Therapeutic Supervised Visitation Program – non-responder
    Vulnerable children and their families: children in foster care and children involved in high-risk custody and visitation cases in family ...
  • Visit Coaching
    Parents whose child(ren) are living in foster care and see them only during visits

Why was this topic chosen by the Advisory Committee?

The Visitation Programs topic area is relevant to child welfare because it is often a necessary step towards reunification of a child with their birth parent. Visitation has been found to be strongly associated with the outcomes of placement, particularly family reunification, and with the length of stay in foster care. According to research, the children who were visited most frequently were more likely to be reunified with their parents and to experience shorter placements before reunification. In addition, researchers have found a relationship between the frequency of the parent-child visits and the child(ren)’s well-being while in foster care. Children in foster care who are visited frequently by their parents are more likely to have high well-being ratings and are more likely to adjust well to their foster care placement than are children less frequently or never visited. Frequent visiting has consistently been found not only to emotionally benefit children in care but also to contribute to the achievement of permanency.

Stuart Oppenheim
Executive Director
Child and Family Policy Institute of California
Sacramento, CA

Topic Expert

The Supervised Visitation Programs topic area was originally launched in 2007. Peg Hess, PhD, was the topic expert and was involved in identifying and rating any of the programs with an original load date of December 2007 (as found on the bottom of the program’s page on the CEBC). All of the programs in this topic area that were added from 2008 to 2017 were identified by CEBC staff, the Scientific Panel, and/or the Advisory Committee. For these programs, Dr. Hess was not involved in identifying or rating them. In 2018, the topic area was revised and expanded to include both supervised and unsupervised visitation and visitation support programs. The topic expert for the 2018 topic area revision is listed below:

Ande Nesmith, MSW, PhD, LISW, Associate Professor
St. Kate-St. Thomas School of Social Work, University of St. Thomas
St. Paul, MN