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A Strengths-based Approach to Supervised Visitation in Child Welfare

  • Author(s): Smith, GT
  • Shapiro, VB
  • Sperry, RW
  • LeBuffe, PA
  • et al.

Published Web Location

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13575279.2013.847056
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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License
Abstract

This article describes a strengths-based approach to supervised visitation within the child welfare system of the United States. Supervised visitation gives parents accused of abuse or neglect the opportunity to spend time with children temporarily removed from their care. Although supervised visitation has the potential to be a tool for promoting successful reunification by maintaining or growing caregiver relationships with children, and pursuing and monitoring caregiver skill acquisition, the risk-management objective that underlies child protection services creates a challenging context for strengths-based approaches. There is a need to articulate a practice model that navigates the tension between the dual aims of child welfare services: risk management and fostering change that leads to a successful reunification. The model for supervised visitation described in this article embraces resilience theory, grounded in strengths-based strategies to build protective factors. This article first describes the collaborative construction of the Joan Sherman Program for Resilient Children through the integration of insights from diverse stakeholders, research evidence, and strengths-based practice principles. Six aspects of the model are described in depth: enhancing the visitation environment, strengths-based assessment, resilience meetings between workers and caregivers, stable visitation routines, activities to promote resilience, and progress check-ups. The article also describes the training programme developed to build workforce capacity and support model implementation. The article concludes by reflecting upon the successes of, and challenges to, the implementation of a strengths-based approach to supervised visitation in the child welfare system and proposes that the model be subjected to a comprehensive programme evaluation. © 2014 © 2014 The Child Care in Practice Group.

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