Anyone will tell you the primary goal in foster care is always reunification. Part of supporting that plan, is improving the child parent relationship. Courts set up visitation schedules to allow that. Our boys originally had two visits weekly for an hour and a half each or three hours a week. Visits can be supervised or unsupervised. Generally, parents start out with supervised visits and work their way to unsupervised, overnight and eventually reunification. Our kids were picked up from daycare, brought to either the “office” or playground and the transporter supervised the visits. When it was time to leave, the parents would get all worked up and it would usually take another thirty minutes to get the kids into the car and on their way home. The parents would give the kids sugary drinks, candy and general junk food. Parents are expected to be able to feed and care for the kids at the visits but just in case, I always sent a bottle with formula, extra diapers, etc.
Visits are also set up for siblings because it’s important the siblings who are split up due to foster care (very common) have the ability to maintain their relationships. The parents missed a number of visits and the caseworker and transporter determined the siblings should have visits once a week. So one day it was held near where Fiona lived and the following week it was at our house (due to weather). We got to see the kids play together, made a dinner out of appetizers and had a really good time.
We started setting up our own visits. It started out meeting Fiona and foster mom at a park. A few weeks later we picked Fiona up and spent a few hours at the water park. Then we did a few hours each weekend. Then overnights every other weekend until she was at our house every Saturday night. Our transporter got another job and the weekday sibling visits transformed into our responsibility.
I think we had daily discussions about whether or not we could handle Fiona or handle three kids period.