Chapter 3 : Section 6.1

Parenting Time and Family Contact Plan

Policy

The Department shall facilitate frequent parenting time and ongoing contact between a child in out-of-home care and the child’s parents, siblings not placed together, relatives, friends, and other individuals with significant relationships to the child to preserve and enhance relationships with, and attachments to, the family and culture of origin. This contact may be restricted or denied only when a court finds that parenting time or contact is contrary to the child’s safety or well-being.

The Department must determine whether there is a court order from a Superior Court criminal case that prohibits contact between the child and the parent or guardian before facilitating contact.

Parenting time and other visitation shall take place in the most natural, family-like setting possible and with as little supervision as possible while still ensuring the safety and well-being of the child.

The Department shall make every reasonable effort to not remove a child in out-of-home care from school during regular school hours for appointments, parenting time, other visitation, or activities not related to school.

Supervision of parenting time and other visitation may be provided by Department of Child Safety (DCS) staff, contracted provider or other individual designated by the DCS Specialist.

Procedures

Creating the Family Contact Plan

Upon removal, the DCS Specialist shall develop, with family members and the child, a Family Contact Plan that includes parenting time and visitation for children in out-of-home care and their parents, as well as any siblings with which a child does not share a living arrangement.

The Specialist shall assist the child and the parents to identify individuals for visitation or contact from among friends, relatives, and individuals with significant relationships, including former foster parents, and will make reasonable efforts to provide ongoing visitation and contact between the child and these individuals.

In developing a Family Contact Plan:

  • Consider first the child's need for safety, and second, how best to facilitate the goals of family reunification and maintenance of the child’s important connections.

  • Consider alternative modes of contact such as phone, mail, or virtual contact if in-person contact is not possible (for example, when a parent is out of state, or incarcerated in a facility that will not allow visitation. See Services for Incarcerated Parents.)

  • Strive for weekly contact and parenting time or visitation with parents and between siblings not placed together, adapting the frequency as necessary to meet the child's safety and well-being needs.

  • Make every reasonable effort to schedule child transportation, parenting time, and other visitation during non-school hours. Whenever possible, use service providers who are able to transport and facilitate/ supervise parenting time or visitation during non-school hours.

  • Consider information from providers regarding parent's progress in developing enhanced caregiver protective capacities, as well as the specific needs of the child, when determining whether to increase the frequency and duration of contact and parenting time, providing maximum opportunity for parent-child contact responsibility when progressing toward reunification.

  • Comply with any court orders regarding contact and visitation.

For comprehensive guidance in developing a parenting time and visitation plan, see Practice Guidelines-Parenting Time (Visitation) Parts I and II.

Before facilitating contact between the child and the parent or guardian:

  • ask the parent or guardian if there is any court order from a Superior Court criminal court, or family court that prohibits contact between the child and the parent or guardian;

  • search the Arizona Supreme Court Public Access to Court Information for any cases involving the parent or guardian; and

  • do not facilitate contact between the child and the parent or guardian if an order from a Superior Court criminal case prohibits such contact.

If a child objects to contact, parenting time, or other visitation, consult the DCS Program Supervisor and Unit Consultant.

If conflicts arise around contact and visitation:

  • consider the child's safety and well-being as the paramount concern in conflict resolution;

  • Prioritize the family members and siblings' rights to contact and visitation over the needs or preferences of out-of-home care providers.

  • Give weight to the contact, parenting time, and visitation plan that best supports the case plan, even if the plan is less convenient or requires additional Department or provider resources.

  • If conflicts are unresolved, explore avenues for seeking resolution, such as Team Decision Making or the court system.

Restricting Contact or Visitation

Parenting time, other visitation, or contact may only be restricted or denied between a child in out-of-home-care and the child’s parents, siblings, relatives, friends, and individuals with a significant relationship, including any former foster parents, when a court determines that visitation or contact is contrary to the child’s safety or well-being.

If the DCS Specialist becomes aware that parenting time, other visitation, or contact may be contrary to the child’s safety or well-being, the Specialist should take the following steps:

  • Staff with a DCS Program Supervisor, reviewing all case documentation related to the child’s safety and well-being in parenting time or other visitation, and assess whether there is support for the conclusion that parenting time or visitation is contrary to the child’s best interest.

  • Consult with the child’s counselor for an assessment of whether continued visits are contrary to the child’s best interest.

  • Meet with a Unit Consultant (see the Unit Psychological Consultation Guide), providing the consultant with any behavioral health documentation related to the child’s safety and well-being during parenting time or visitation, and obtain a recommendation regarding whether the Specialist should seek to limit or restrict visitation for the well-being and safety of the child.

  • Staff with an Assistant Attorney General (AAG) regarding whether there is sufficient documented evidence to support the claim that visitation is contrary to the child’s best interest.

  • If, after these steps, it remains the determination of the DCS Specialist and DCS Program Supervisor that parenting time or other visitation is contrary to the well-being or safety of the child, request the AAG to motion the court to limit or restrict contact between the child and the individual(s).

  • Unless the court determines that parenting time or other visitation is contrary to the best interest of the child, the Specialist shall not deny visitation.

Referring for Visitation Service Providers

Parenting time and other visitation services shall be provided at the discretion of the Department in conjunction with needs identified in the family's case plan. In addition to DCS Case Aide supervised visitations, the Specialist may refer parents and children to Supervised Visitation Only services or Clinically Supervised Parenting Time.

Consider referring a family to Nurturing Parenting Program (NPP) services when a Family Functioning Assessment indicates that:

  • at least one child age birth to 18 resides in the home, or a parent in the home has parenting time with a child; and

  • at least one parent is able and available to participate in NPP services and does not currently have any of the following restrictions on participation:

    • no contact order between the parent/caregiver and the child,

    • impairment requiring stabilization or improvement before the parent could benefit from NPP (i.e. active psychosis, physical illness requiring hospitalization or residential care, pervasive substance use impacting reality orientation),or

    • institutionalized or incarcerated;

  • the DCS Specialist and family have discussed the family’s strengths and needs, and the family has verbally agreed to meet with a NPP Practitioner to learn about the program and services; and

  • the DCS Specialist and DCS Supervisor have concluded one or more family members has a behavioral change goal that can be achieved by improving in one or more NPP Constructs, and there are no available and accessible community programs that would provide the family an equivalent service.

NPP providers will provide parenting skill curriculum thirty minutes a week. NPP providers will not be responsible for providing supervision or transportation of the child.

Consider using Supervised Visitation Only (see Supervised Visitation Only Service Guide) services when a Family Functioning Assessment indicates that supervision of parenting time is necessary due to ensure the child’s safety and well-being.

Consider referring for Clinically Supervised Parenting Time when a Family Functioning Assessment indicates that supervision of parenting time requires a qualified mental health clinician to ensure the safety and well-being of the child.

Ensure authorization for each service is requested according to the Service Referral Approval Matrix, and when completed, submit the referral packet to the appropriate Regional Resource Unit.

Marijuana

Medical Marijuana

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act Arizona Medical Marijuana Act) enables a person (a qualifying patient) registered with the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to legally obtain, under Arizona law, an allowable amount of marijuana and possess and use the marijuana for its therapeutic effects in treating and alleviating symptoms associated with a debilitating medical condition. However, the possession, sale or transportation of marijuana is still a crime under Federal law.

Recreational Marijuana

The Responsible Adult Use of Marijuana Act enables people age 21 or over to cultivate or use marijuana or marijuana products in a responsible and lawful manner.

The DCS Specialist and DCS Program Supervisor may not restrict or deny contact or visitation between the child and a parent who uses marijuana recreationally or is a qualifying patient because the parent uses or cultivates marijuana for recreational or medical use.

In order to recommend against contact or visitation with a child by a parent who uses marijuana recreationally or is a qualifying patient, the DCS Specialist and DCS Program Supervisor must assess the parent’s behavior and determine whether that behavior creates an unreasonable danger to the child's safety or well-being.

If contact and parenting time or other visitation are determined to be contrary to the child's safety or well-being, and the child cannot be protected through a supervised or structured visit, contact the Attorney General's Office to request that a motion be filed to restrict or prohibit contact. Restriction or denial of contact or visitation between the child and the child’s siblings, parents, relatives, friends, or former foster parents may occur only by court order.

Documentation

Document the contact, parenting time, and visitation plan in Family Contact Plan section of the Case Plan, including:

  • a plan for frequent contact or visitation between siblings if the siblings are unable to be placed together; and/or

  • the Court’s finding that contact and visitation should be restricted, and the modified visitation plan.

When the Specialist has assessed that contact, parenting time, or visitation is contrary to the child's safety and well-being, document the reasons in a Note.

Maintain the NPP, CSPT or case aide’s reports in the hard copy record and upload as an Artifact in Guardian.

Document any other contact between the child and the child’s siblings, family members, other relatives, friends, and any former foster parents using Notes.

Document the supervision of contact, parenting time, and other visitation using the Summary of Supervised Visitation, CSO-1091A. File the form in the hard copy record.

Document approval for an additional service authorization from the Program Supervisor using Notes.

Effective Date: October 1, 2021
Revision History: November 30, 2012, February 1, 2021