Recently, Quinn, Sage, and Tunseth surveyed child family workers about the use of video assisted visitation (VAV) in the family reunification process. The catalyst for the research included issues with visitation due to distance and adverse weather conditions, as well as lack of sufficient workers to oversee the visits and make the drives. Ultimately, our research aims to assess VAV capacity, exploring programs such as Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, and other platforms that use webcams to allow for telecommunication, in order to discover the value that VAV has in the family reunification process.
Social workers who had families who had used VAV reported that advantages to using VAV included the ability to connect the child to the child and family team, the ability to maintain relationships, an added therapeutic value, access to family when access was restricted due to distance, and the ability to hear and see each other. Conversely, child welfare workers indicated that technology in general can be problematic, that the age of the child could be a hindrance in using VAV, there were limitations not being in the same physical space, and a fear that VAV would use to replace the in-person visit.
In conclusion, our VAV research is the exploration of a largely untouched but increasingly relevant possibility for improving visitation frequency and reunification services for families. In fact, rather than advocating for VAV to replace the in-person visit (something neither of the three authors would ever do), jurisdictions that wish to adopt VAV should develop policies regarding the use of the technology when considered in the reunification process.