Change in the DFPS Sibling Visitation Policy: Effective 10/01/19

As of October 1st, 2019, DFPS made changes to the sibling visitation policy.

Two brothers playingThis policy change will be a great benefit to our CASA children who are placed apart from their siblings.

Why is the policy changing? 

Visitation during a conservatorship case is vital to the well-being of the children and family. The federal Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) determines whether concerted efforts were made to ensure that visitation between children in foster care and their parents and siblings is of sufficient frequency and quality to promote continuity in the child’s relationship with these close family members. The federal expectation is that visits will occur at least weekly, unless DFPS can explain how the frequency was sufficient for the child, and whether efforts for more frequent visits were made.

Policy sections that are being updated: 

Policy 6416 Visitation between Families and Children in Substitute Care and 6416.1 Sibling Visitation are being updated to reflect this needed frequency.

What is changing? 

Visitation between siblings must now be at least weekly.

Strategies to accomplish this change: 

The policy outlines a non-exhaustive list of efforts that can help facilitate weekly sibling visitation. These include working with siblings’ providers for transportation and supervision, using locations other than the DFPS office, or asking relatives to supervise.

Exceptions:

Unless the court orders otherwise, any exceptions to weekly visitation must be approved by a supervisor and documented in the Child’s Plan of Service (CPOS). When an exception does occur, other efforts must be in place to ensure contact while the exception exists.

  •  Distance is not a valid reason for visits not to occur weekly.
  •  Withholding a visit as punishment for a parent’s or child’s behavior is not allowed. 
  • Visitation should not be used as a reward or punishment, and should be considered a right of families and children.

If you have additional questions or concerns about application of this policy in your particular case please contact your CASA Supervisor.