HEART TO HEART: Visitation rooms easing foster children back home

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ABILENE, Texas (KRBC) — The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) plays a very important role in a child’s life, if they are removed from their home due to child abuse or neglect.

To help ease that transition, they take part in what is called visitation rooms.

“I think that for some parents, that can be intimidating and maybe uncomfortable. At the same time, visitation is an uplifting experience. A lot of the time, the parents that I’ve experienced don’t care that they have to be monitored every word. They just want that time with their child,” conservatorship specialist, Cecilia Clowdus said. 

An empty room, with limited toys, white walls and white noise becomes the reality of many kids taken into foster care.

“Often times, visitations can range from one hour once a week, to two hours twice a week, in the community of here at the office,” Clowdus said.

Visitation rooms within DFPS are there to reconnect.

“We are also looking at how well they’re bonding, so is the parent focusing on their child? Is the parent reading to their children? Those are positive experiences that we definitely take note of, that show the parent putting forth that investment in the visit,” Clwdus said.

With the primary goal of family reunification.

“I think most of the time, it’s really uplifting for parents to be given an opportunity to have everything they need in a room, to be able to demonstrate those parenting skills and to show themselves, ‘Hey, we can do this,'” Clowdus said.

Clowdus comes from a background of working with people who have experienced trauma in their childhood.

“I feel like I get to see a different time frame of when that’s happening and I get to help influence the child’s life. Helping them feel, regardless of what happens, we’re going to try and make the best decisions,” Clowdus said.

Eventually, helping the kids leave the white walls of visitations and returning to homes full of color and love.

“It’s really gratifying to see families come together in such turmoil and in such disruption in their lives, to see them really pull together with all their strengths,” Clowdus said.

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