Michael Griswold’s inspirational story illustrates a foster care fact that is often ignored: Most foster children are returned to their parents (“Taken from the depths by tug of parenthood,” Page A1, Dec. 24). The Griswolds’ success is remarkable given that Jameal apparently didn’t get to visit with his father for the first five months of their separation.
Frequent parent-child visits are critical. They help minimize trauma resulting from being separated from family. Visits also let children develop and maintain attachments with parents, and help parents learn skills needed to care for their children. Longer visits, more frequent visits, and unsupervised visits allow children to be returned home safely and quickly, and minimize foster care costs.
The Department of Children and Families faces many challenges, but hopefully under our new governor it will explore alternatives to its policy of providing children only a one-hour supervised visit with parents once a week, or every other week, at a DCF office. One alternative is to use family members, churches, and community resources to provide supervision. Flexible approaches to visits can keep children safe. They fulfill DCF’s obligation to make reasonable efforts to reunite children with parents — a requirement that applies in all but the most egregious cases, and that meets the needs of children by enabling them to return home.