Prepared by: Susanne DiPietro, CINA Court Improvement Coordinator
820 West 4th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 264-0785; Fax: (907) 264-0693
The CINA Court Improvement Committee’s Family Contact Initiative is a multi-agency effort designed to improve the amount and quality of contact between children in care and their biological parents. Research shows that high-quality and frequent family contact is associated with faster and more lasting reunification, and decreasing amounts of time in out-of-home care. Also, anecdotal information from Alaska practitioners suggested that in many instances family contact was not being viewed as an integral part of the case plan, and workers had no good way of determining when contact should be supervised, and by whom, or when contact could be unsupervised.
The committee’s first product was a chart showing protocols for levels of supervision. The “Levels of Supervision Protocols” charts provide an analytical tool for practitioners to evaluate the case-specific factors that affect the family contact for each parent and child.
The second step was to revise OCS’ policy on family contact, and this was completed on July 1, 2009. (The new policy is available on the OCS web site).
The third step was to train all practitioners on the new ideas. During spring/summer of 2009, the Visitation Subcommittee organized and delivered interdisciplinary family contact training to every superior court location in the state. Interdisciplinary teams consisting of a social worker, a GAL, a parents’ attorney and an AAG delivered the training. Invitees at each location included all OCS staff (mandatory), all AAGs (mandatory), parents’ attorneys, GALs, tribal representatives, service providers, and judges.
Since July of 2009, the CINA Court Improvement Committee’s family contact subcommittee (also referred to as the Visitation Subcommittee) has been working to ensure that all practitioners are successfully implementing the new family contact ideas into their cases. This effort includes reaching out to resource families to help them understand their important role in enhancing family contact.
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| Rev. 27 March 2013
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