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March 2006Vol. 7, No. 2Standards for Caseworker Visits With Children in Foster Care

Caseworker visits with children in foster care have been linked to permanency outcomes, safety, and well-being for the children in care. Most States have standards specifying how often caseworkers should visit children in foster care, as well as how the visiting time should be spent, but these standards are not consistent across States.

Two reports recently released by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services documented which States have standards, what the standards stipulate, and how the States track visitation. The reports noted the following:

  • Forty-two States and the District of Columbia had statewide written standards calling for caseworkers to visit children in foster care at least monthly.
  • Twenty States were able to produce statewide reports of visits; of these 20 States, 7 indicated that fewer than half of the children in foster care were actually visited on a monthly basis in FY 2003.
  • Forty States and the District of Columbia reported implementing statewide written standards for the content of caseworker visits with children in foster care.
  • The most common activities recommended by the visitation standards included building relationships and communication between the caseworker and child, as well as addressing the needs of the child.

The OIG offers recommendations for improving visitation standards and the frequency, content, and tracking of actual visits. One recommendation for States with limited or nonexistent capacity to record the frequency of caseworker visits and produce statewide reports is to implement an automated system, such as the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS), capable of tracking and producing reports of caseworker visits.

The complete reports can be accessed on the OIG website:

Related Items

Children's Bureau Express last covered the topic of caseworker visitation in the following articles:

  • "Guidelines for Caseworkers' Family Access and Visitation" (April 2005, Resources section)
  • "Curriculum for Caseworker-Child Visits" (March 2005, Training section)