Chapter 3 : Section 9.1

Services for Detained or Incarcerated Parents


The Department shall provide reunification services to a parent who is detained or incarcerated and is a party to a dependency case unless the court relieves the Department of providing reunification services based on a finding of aggravating circumstances.

The Department shall communicate with detained or incarcerated parents and appropriate jail or correctional service staff to inform them of the case plan, discuss service needs, and determine what reunification services may be provided at the correctional facility.

The incarcerated parent, to the extent possible, shall be included in case plan staffings, parenting time (visitation), and services identified in the case plan.


After completing the preparation, introduction, and exploration stages of the Family Functioning Assessment–Ongoing, the DCS Specialist, service team members, and the family will determine appropriate services to enhance the parent’s protective capacities and/or remediate safety threats.

Provide the parent with the name and addresses for the court and their assigned attorney handling the dependency proceedings.

Notify the parent of the dates of scheduled court hearings, Foster Care Review Board hearings and case plan staffings, and ensure the parent’s voice and perspective are represented during these hearings and staffings.

Invite the parent to case plan staffings and, whenever possible, facilitate the parent’s participation.

  • Contact the jail or correctional staff to arrange for the parent to participate in case plan staffings, services, court hearings, and Foster Care Review Board hearings telephonically or in person.

  • Services to remediate safety threats and achieve desired behavioral changes may be provided by the correctional facility or jail if the parent is eligible as determined by the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) or jail facility regulations. Otherwise, the Department must make efforts to provide services, as allowed by facility regulations and appropriate to the case circumstances.

The DCS Specialist will ensure all parents are informed of, and understand, the reasons why DCS in involved with the family and the desired behaviors that will be observed when the diminished caregiver protective capacities have been enhanced.

The DCS Specialist will make efforts to engage and involve the incarcerated parent in case plan staffings, parenting time, and services identified in the case plan throughout the duration of the Department’s involvement with the family.

Provide a copy of the case plan to the parent.

To obtain services for a parent who is incarcerated in the ADC, contact the parent’s Correctional Officer. For parents detained in county jail facilities, contact the program coordinator.

Make a written request for available services in the jail or prison facility. If services are not available, request permission for the Department to provide to the parent on-site assessments, evaluations, and services that have been identified in the case plan.

Request the parent complete a release of information with the jail facility or ADC to share the results of any assessments or evaluations conducted by the jail or ADC. Request the assessments, evaluations, or other information to further explore service needs as appropriate.

Complete the Authorization to Disclose Health Information, (CSO-1038A) to allow agencies to share information regarding mental health and/or substance abuse treatment for a parent participating in these services.

Request from the parent, jail staff and/or Correctional Officer confirmation of the parent’s participation in services.

Determine the frequency and type of contact that will occur between the parent and the DCS Specialist. See Planning for Services and Supports to Achieve Permanency to determine when an exception to monthly face-to-face contact with the parent is appropriate. If an exception to monthly face-to-face contact is appropriate, approved communication with the incarcerated parent must include information outlined in Contact with Children, Parents and Out-of-Home Caregivers as well as services offered at the facility, and instruction to coordinate services with their assigned correctional officer.

Parenting Time (Visitation) with Incarcerated Parents

When developing the parenting time plan with the parent, consider the age of the child, the ability to maintain and nurture the parent-child relationship, the distance to the facility, and the potential impact of in-person visits at the jail or prison on the child. See Parenting Time and Family Contact Plan for further guidance in developing a parenting time (visitation) plan.

If the location of the facility substantially hinders parenting time between the child and parent, consult with caregivers, family members, providers, and other team members to determine how the team can address this barrier to support maintaining the connection between the child and the detained or incarcerated parent. If approved relatives are willing to facilitate in-person visitation, consult with the DCS Program Supervisor to determine whether this is an appropriate option.

If in-person parenting time is denied by the jail or correctional facility, staff with a Program Supervisor and the assigned Assistant Attorney General immediately to assess which course of action best meets the Department’s statutory obligation to provide the child and parent regular contact.

If a court has determined that in-person parenting time is detrimental to the child and not in the child’s best interests, or in-person parenting time is not possible, maintain the parent/ child connection through other means such as video visits facilitated by caregivers or the Department, letters, phone calls, cards or gifts.

Determining when services are not required

Discuss with the assigned Assistant Attorney General whether aggravating circumstances exist due to the parent’s criminal history. Determine if the Department should pursue an order relieving the Department of providing reunification services due to aggravating circumstances.

Locating an Incarcerated Parent

To locate an incarcerated parent, use the following resources:


Document services provided through the ADC and the Department in the case plan.

Document recommendations for parenting time, including any restrictions, in Guardian in the Notes tab.

Document any service restrictions in Guardian in the Notes tab.

Effective Date: April 22, 2022
Revision History: November 30, 2012, February 1, 2021