This year’s FDC webinar series is entitled “This Changes Everything” and through each presentation, we aim to advance FDC practice by shifting paradigms and looking at barriers as opportunities for change. During yesterday’s presentation, we challenged FDC professionals to re-think their pre-existing ideas of recovery, well-being, and parent-child visitation and what it means to be family-centered.
Parent-Child Relationship – If addiction impacts the entire family system and family relationships, recovery should pay particular focus on healing and nurturing the parent-child relationship. FDCs must raise the bar on their capacity to address the parent-child relationship through services and interventions that addressing any concerns regarding attachment and bonding, parenting in recovery, and enhance family communication and trust.
Quality Visitation – Because the term visitation does not adequately describe the quality and quantity of time that families need to spend together when children are removed from the home, child welfare experts have begun using other terms, such as “family time,” “family access,” and “family interaction.” Research shows that regular, frequent visitation increases the likelihood of successful reunification, reduces time in out-of-home care, promotes healthy attachment, and reduces the negative effects of separation for the child and the parent. (Smarija, 2007)
A few promising practices include the following (Smarija, 2007)
Therapeutic Visitation Programs – provide opportunities to promote attachment and help parents improve their parenting skills
Supervised Visitation Centers – serve families of children in foster care who can only visit when an impartial supervisor is present. The centers provide a warm, homelike environment where parents can visit with their children in a safe and supervised setting. The Supervised Visitation Network is a helpful resource for advocates interested in learning more about supervised visitation centers.
Residential Treatment Programs in which Children are Placed with Their Mothers
Assessment Tools – aside from the standard safety and risk assessment protocols conducted by CWS, a family-centered approach towards assessing readiness should include evaluating family functioning. One tool used by several FDC Teams is the North Carolina Family Assessment Survey (NCFAS), which was developed to assess family functioning in the domains of Environment, Parental Capabilities, Family Interactions, Family Safety, and Child Well-being. For more information, please visit the National Family Preservation Network by clicking here.
Team Meetings – FDC case staffings and team meetings with families should include particular focus on how the individual member’s participation in treatment is promoting family well-being. This should include updates on how visitations are going and how the family is applying or demonstrating what they are learning in parenting and parent-child therapy. Team meetings should also offer families to actively participate in discussions and planning. Family-based meetings, such as Family Group Decision-Making provide families the opportunity to play an active part in decision-making. For more information about FGDM, you can visit the FGDM page on the American Humane Association or the FGDM page on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.