Stay-over visits with teen moms must be supervised – Official
by Bria King
Underage mothers with children in foster care must live with a responsible parent or guardian in order for the Child Protection Unit to authorize stay-over visits of the children.
A teenage mother visited SEARCHLIGHT last Monday to express her frustration with social workers at the Family Affairs Division, who she said were making it difficult for her to have stay-over visits with her child, who is in foster care.
A stay-over visit is where a parent, who has a child in foster care, is granted overnight, weekend or special occasion visits with that child at their own place of residence.
The mother, who is also a third form student, said that her three-year-old child is in foster care at a local children’s home.
“The reason why she’s not with me is because how I’m going to school and I don’t really have nobody to stay with her, I decided to put her in a home where it’s safe and everything will be okay with her. But now I’ve done that, I’ve regret it because it’s bare problems,” the young mother said.
She added that while she has been allowed stay-over visits with her child in the past, she often has trouble securing that time with her child, because social workers insist that she is a minor and should have a guardian in the home in order for those visits to take place.
“I already call my guardian and one of them spoke to her and she said yes I’m staying with her and all that, but now I don’t know what’s the problem. It’s getting real overbearing and I can’t handle it because I don’t see the reason why I have to be going through this just to get my child and saying I’m an underage child and all of that,” the teenager said.
“It’s really getting out of hand and I don’t know how much of it I can put up with. I’m going to have to remove her from the home and get somebody to stay with her meanwhile, because I don’t know what’s going on.”
The teen admitted that her guardian travels frequently, but said that she stays with her guardian’s mother and brother when she is out of state.
She said that she feels as if the workers in the Family Affairs Division do not trust her with her child and she is hurt by the situation.
A source in the Child Protection Unit told SEARCHLIGHT that the unit has to ensure that a child in foster care will be safe when stay-over visits are granted to a teenage mother. And for this to happen, the unit has to be sure that a responsible adult is present in the home.
“There still has to be a guardian over the teen mother. With a teen mother, because she is a teen mother, she herself is a child so it still needs a guardian over a teen mother,” she said.
And if a stay-over visit is not granted, it may be because this requirement was not sufficiently met.
The Child Protection Unit worker explained that a parent seeking to place a child into fostercare, particularly a teenage mother, has to sit with a case worker and a parent or guardian and explain the circumstances in the situation.
She also said that case workers will carry out the necessary investigations before a child is placed into foster care.
Except for cases of some sort of abuse, parents are given supervised visits at the office in Kingstown and can graduate to having stay-over visits, where the child can stay overnight or spend weekends.
The worker advised that any teenage mother having an issue should come to the department and speak with one of the case workers in the Child Protection unit.