Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why Good Visitation Notes Matter

Our agency receives many questions about what services we provide in addition to the actual supervised visit.  Whether you go with our agency or somewhere else, we highly recommend that you inquire about what notes are kept of the actual visit, in addition to how and when they are made available. We suggest parents or guardians even request a sample of an agency's visitation notes so they can see what is reasonable to expect.

Children First, which only uses professionally licensed social workers for supervised visits, provides detailed notes of the visit to all parties within 48 hours.  The first page documents some of the basics. Examples include whether the parent and/or child arrived on time and stayed for entire visit, whether the social worker had to intervene in order to protect the health, safety or wellness of the child, and what activities occurred during the visit.

The second page of notes is a narrative from the social worker that gives all parties a more comprehensive report of what transpired during the visit.  Here the parent or guardian will read, with more details, exactly what the parent and child/children did for the duration of the visit. This section would include any concerns that did not require the visit to be immediately terminated, but rather issues that need to be addressed, and other notable activities that occurred during the visit.

We are repeatedly told by parents on both sides of the supervision paradigm that these notes are extremely useful. Of course, they play a key role in learning what occurred during a visit, but they also are frequently reviewed by a court in the process of deciding the future of the case.  Our agency believes it is best to have notes completed immediately following the actual visit, as opposed to testing the memory of the visitation supervisor several weeks or even months later.

Again, whether using one of our professional licensed social workers or another agency, be sure to investigate what sort of documentation will be done for your visit.

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