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Federal Laws re: Child Welfare Visitation, including with an Incarcerated Parent

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  • Federal Laws re: Child Welfare Visitation, including with an Incarcerated Parent

    Are there Federal Laws requiring State child welfare agencies to provide Visitation between children and their parents? What if the parent is incarcerated, are there laws requiring Visitation with an incarcerated parent (generally, understanding some parents may have offended against the child)?

  • #2
    If you have a public law library near you, it might be worth a visit, especially if they have legal encyclopedias (give them a call first). For example, the set American Jurisprudence 2d has some general information on visitation rights and also on restrictions on visitation rights. Generally speaking, matters dealing with child visitation are state-based matters (often varying from state to state), and decisions on child visitation are usually left to the discretion of the courts.

    With that said, to see if there were any federal laws, I started off with a simple Google search that looked like this:
    child AND visitation AND (parent OR guardian)
    This means that I wanted the search results to include all of the keywords that you were looking for, and after some trial and error, I decided that I wanted the search to only find laws in Title 42 of the United States Code; I suspected that if any such federal laws existed, they would likely be in this Title. Title 42 deals with The Public Health and Welfare. I got about 85 results.

    The general sense that I was able to get from the results is that the Federal Government controls the funding of such child welfare agencies to the extent that certain programs must be in place to justify federal funding or grant awards; the closest law that I was able to find in Title 42 are in Chapter 7 > Subpart IV > Part B > Subpart 2: is in section 629a, paragraph (a)(7)(B)(vii) speaks to
    Services and activities designed to facilitate access to and visitation of children by parents and siblings.
    ... but again, this deals with federal funding and grants for programs or services that the state should have in place. It is still up to the state to provide those programs or services.
    I found this specific section from a footnote in this document: which helped me to confirm that my Google search was focused in the right Title.