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Why Do Visits Matter?

When a child is placed into foster care, it's often because trauma has occurred. The separation and loss they feel when removed from their family only adds to their distress. Often, almost everything and everyone a child knows is lost, at least temporarily. Studies show that visitations help children maintain emotional attachments and continue connections. Visits can also help motivate parents follow through on their court-ordered plans and expand their skills to care for their children. Specifically, parent-child visits have been linked to shorter foster care placements.

A few of the many benefits to healthy parent-child visits are:

  • Maintaining the child's sense of belonging to a family

  • Reassuring the child they have not been abandoned

  • Facilitating a smoother transition if the child returns home

  • Increasing the probability for a shorter stay in foster care


What is happening in Texas?

In Texas in 2020, 54% of children were reunified with their birth families after spending about 14 months in foster care. Since most children are reunified, it's critical the parent-child relationship be maintained, if not enhanced. Without healthy visits, the relationship can quickly erode--parents and children can become emotionally detached, which makes successful reunification all the more difficult. 

Not only does failure to have visits make reunification more challenging, children sometimes have a harder time attaching to adoptive parents because they fantasize about being with their biological parents. At the same time having visits regularly, but having them be full of tension and repeated stress further heaps trauma on an already traumatized child and family. 

Sadly, while many parents complete a court-ordered plan and attend visits, they often do not encounter opportunities to "expand their parenting toolbelt". Unfortunately, according to US Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 12.1% or 1800 children in Texas re-entered foster care in 2021. Our hope is to bolster parents by building confidence in new skills and empower them to be healthy parents to their children. 





What does a healthy visit look like?

Since the goal of visitation is primarily to help the child feel safe, ideally the visits would occur in the most natural and home-like setting possible. For the parent, it's an opportunity to connect with their child and deepen their relationship. It's also an ideal time for the parent to learn new skills, behaviors, and habits.

What makes our visitation program different?

As is true for all of us, we often need a coach to help us learn a new way of doing something. What better time than during a monitored visit with a visit facilitator who cares about parent and child and wants to see a broken relationship restored. Our visit facilitators at Hope Spring Community are Trauma-informed and have been through intensive training to know how to gently coach and model. After each visit, parent and facilitator will do a check in without the child to offer encouragement and guidance on how to make the visit most fruitful in the future. 













Are visits the magic solution? 

Nope! There are many complex factors that contribute to rebuilding healthy families following the trauma that brought children into care. We at Hope Spring Community believe we can contribute to providing this small, but critical, piece of the puzzle. 

Mom and child having a healthy visit
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