Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

McCaslin, Rosemary


The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of San Bernardino County’s Family Visitation Centers (FVC) and their effect on improving rates of reunification in families that use the visit centers, as opposed to those families who do not use the visit centers. The FVC were developed out of the Department Human Services Redesign to enhance the visitation experience for families, staff and others involved in the process. The FVC centers are a place to provide safe visits, in a non-sterile environment, for children to maintain the bonds with their parents that they have been removed from by child welfare while in a reunification process. The County of San Bernardino has invested approximately 1.9 million dollars annually into the FVC’s, and to date, there has not been a clear evaluation as to the effectiveness in reunifying families faster with usage of the FVC.

The researchers used a descriptive statistical approach to examine the effect FVC’s has on the reunification process. The research methods used were quantitative in design and included comparative research, looking both at the results of clients use and non-use of the FVC’s. Data was collected February 2017. The size of our sample was ninety cases that used the FVC, and ninety families that did not use the center in the same regions, but were participating in visits and in reunification services, 180 families in total. To ensure that a random sample was used, a third-party person collected statistical information from Case Management System/Child Welfare System (CMS/CWS). The list was composed from preselected data included in the San Bernardino County Visitation Center Instrument. The variables used included families that were in the reunification process and having visits either at a CFS office or at the FVC, primary and secondary reason for removal, age of youngest child, age of parent, race/ethnicity, if a visit occurred and number of months in placement.

Data was collected using every fifth family was selected, the researchers received a list, with only the above pertinent information for each of the families. The researchers did not need any Protected Identifying Information (PII) and no human subjects were used. All items related to the research was maintained in electronic form on password protected computers and was only calculated and read in a protected area.

The hope of this research project was to find out if the money being invested in the FVC was working toward returning children in shorter time frames, than the traditional way of handling visits within the county at the CFS offices. Results from this study could change things dramatically within CFS. Positive outcomes could allow for more outside contracted agencies to be used to promote faster reunification, while lightening the duties of the social worker. Negative results could result in the FVC losing funding, the department would go back to supervising the visits within the offices, many social worker hours would be used supervising visits, the visit could be affected by the presence of the social worker. The outcomes could change business on a daily basis for the department or FVC in that, adjustments may need to be made, and provide a different standard of ideology of what visitation should be for families that are trying to work through their case plans to reunify with their children. This study found families who used visitation centers had longer placement episodes lengths than non-visitation center users. This outcome is contrary to our assumption, use of visitation centers help families reunify in less time

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