The views of birth families regarding access visits in foster care

Miguel Ángel García-Martín, María J Fuentes, Isabel M Bernedo María D Salas - Journal of Social Work



This study aims to give voice to parents and gather their views about contact visits in foster care. Participants were 23 birth families who had contact visits with 35 children in non-kinship foster care. Semistructured individual interviews were conducted in order to explore two key aspects: the parents’ opinions regarding the contact visits and the main areas they felt needed improving. The interviews were transcribed and the transcripts were examined using an inductive method by Atlas.ti.


The main themes to emerge concerned their general view of contact visits, the input and support from social workers, the contribution of foster families, the contact venue, and the organization of visits. In general, the birth families’ comments were positive about the support and treatment received from social workers. However, they also mentioned certain aspects should be improved, such as supervision during visits.


The results suggest several ways to improve social work practice. Social workers should aim to involve birth families more in the process of drawing up contact arrangements and offering birth families adequate preparation prior to visits. Child protection agencies also have a role to play in relation to improving the facilities in which visits are held, as well as their overall organization, such as, the venue should provide a space that enables everyday family relationships to take place, and in the absence of this, attempts should be made to organize visits outside the official meeting place.