Social worker can bring a child in foster care to visit their parent(s) in prison
I am a Family Services Case Worker, also known as a Social Worker. I have a caseload of children in foster care and also have relationships with their parents and sometimes they have a parent in prison. I try to keep in touch with all of the parents of the children I work with. The parents that are incarcerated locally can call me collect and I correspond by mail for those parents that are incarcerated out of state.
Steps to bringing foster child to prison to visit parent
I think it’s important for the children to maintain a relationship with their parents no matter where they are (as long as it is safe and not abusive of course). I can also arrange to take their children to visit them in prison since I’m considered a legal guardian. Even though I’m a Social Worker I still need to submit an application form and it has to be notarized. I also have to send them my ID, court order to show the children are in foster care, and their birth certificate to show there’s a relationship with their parent. The approval period can take one to two months before I can take the child to visit their parent.
I’m going to describe situations where I brought children to visit their mothers. Even though I’m a Social Worker I still have to schedule an appointment the week before to inform the prison that I’m bringing a child to visit their parent. I then get a confirmation that has the scheduled visit time on it. I have to bring the confirmation email with me.
Social Workers are government employees so I do get to drive a government car for the visit. I pick up the children at their respective placements (foster home or other facility) and transport them to the prison. When we get there I have to leave my money and belongings in the car. All I can bring with me is my ID and keys. Teenagers need to have a school ID. When we get inside I have to sign a consent for them to search me. I then go through the metal detector and they do a full body search. At this area in the prison they do not know that I’m a government worker.
It’s more than a job
For me it’s more than a job, it’s a passion. I care that these children get to see their parents and continue the bond with their parents. One mother went from maximum to lower security, so her only visiting hours were Saturday mornings. So I clocked in at 6:30am, picked up the child and drove her to see her mother. The lower security prison isn’t as strict and has more amenities. The visiting area looked like a warehouse and had some vending machines, but still not very family friendly. The three of us played Uno during the visit. I not only gained relationship with the mother, but with the child, too. We discussed how long it would be until she’ll be out and they’ll be together. It started at two years, then eighteen months, then one year and this past November she was released. Due to the bond that was formed we were able to close the case within two weeks after she got out. Since the mother and daughter got to see each other almost every month they already had the relationship.
Several times I’ve taken two sets of children to visit their mothers at the same visit; one child was a teenager and the other was a baby. When I brought them in the teenager would sit with her mother, and I would spend most of the ½ hour sitting with the baby and her mother, checking on the teenager from time to time. Children over 10 years old can’t sit next to their mother; the inmates need to sit a certain way so the cameras can see them. When we get there and when we leave the mother can kiss and hug her child.
Only one time we were denied a visit because a child was wearing denim and they were not allowed to wear blue to this prison.
The sad ending
The mother with the baby had five children during the times she was in and out of prison. She wouldn’t work her program, and unfortunately lost or gave up custody of her children. Three of her children went back to their father, one child was adopted by her paternal grandparents, and the baby that I had brought to her was adopted too.
The happy ending
When the mother of the teenager was released we were able to help her obtain housing through the Transitional Housing Program and helped her get a job. The Workforce Investment Act helps pay salaries to incentivizes employers to hire people, including those coming out of prison. The mother worked in a fast food restaurant. The Transitional Housing cost her 80% of her earning and she was still able to save $1,000 that she used to buy car with the help of her family. While she was in transitional housing the Judge place her daughter with an aunt even though her aunt had a record. Unfortunately the daughter was removed from the aunt’s home when there was a shooting at the house. The daughter was then placed with a friend which took a lot of work. Her mother was being released from transitional housing in six weeks so I spoke to the daughter’s best friend’s parents to make arrangements. They had to come to the agency for fingerprinting and background check. Apparently the mother of the daughter’s friend had identity theft 10 years prior and the person that stole her identity bought a weapon so I had to find a manager, on a Saturday, to approve the placement. Since they needed approval in writing from the manager the daughter had to stay in a facility until Monday, when everything was approved. Six weeks later she was reunited with her mother. When the case was closed the mother, the attorney, and the daughter praised me on keeping the bond between mother and daughter. I believe all Social Workers should do that.