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Surviving a CPS Visit with Foster Children

Surviving a CPS visit with foster children

Are you a foster parent who endures the ongoing CPS visits with your foster children? Would you like to know how to survive? How about thrive? This post is all about surviving a CPS visit with foster children. With some practice, you will learn to thrive.

CPS visits are often intimidating because the social workers have so much authority and can make decisions based upon what they see at our house as well as how well we parent the state children. If we seem incompetent, they could remove the child.


How can we go from intimidation and surviving to thriving the visit and actually looking forward to it?

With over ten years of experience in foster parenting, numerous CPS visits for foster and/or false accusations (you know the kind you get when a 'good-natured' person just happens to make a referral), and working with adoption workers, I compiled a list of tips and tricks just for you. Of course, this list is dependent on the age of the children and how many there are.


12 Tips for a successful CPS visit


  1. Have a 'bucket' of toys for the kids to play with when the social worker arrives only. These are toys that they only get out when the worker is there. This keeps them interested so you can have a great conversation and spend quality time with the worker and discuss things without 1,000 interruptions.

  2. Prepare the children. Ask for their help in getting the home ready. "Hey Sally and Jackie, we have a special friend coming over today. Remember Lindsey? She is coming to see you again. Let's pick up the house and dust with the duster. Who wants to use the duster?"

  3. Make a list of common questions that you have with each visit. These could include, have there been any updates with the mom, dad, etc. Have there been any other relatives interested in the children? When is the next MDT meeting? When is the next court case?

  4. Discuss visits and how the children do before and after the visit. Give an accurate description and don't complain.

  5. Don't complain about anything. Reconstruct 'complaints' into concerns for the children. This may take some thought and discussion with your spouse or a foster care mentor if you have one.

  6. Make a list of current questions that you have about the case on a pad of paper. Leave space for some answers. Take notes on the answers while he or she is there.

  7. If you have teens, let them know that their social worker is coming over so you can help them make a list of things to ask them or discuss.

  8. If you are tired and need a break, you can say, "Since we have been fostering for 8 months, I was wondering about the latest policy on respite care. We were thinking about taking a week's vacation next month." And lead the conversation with that. If you know of a foster family already who may be willing to take the children for a specific time period, give their information to them at that time. They could possibly work on getting approved to be the respite providers. Workers are overworked and the more you do for them, while including them, they will appreciate it. Don't overstep boundaries, but offer assistance - especially if it saves time.

  9. When there are problems, be honest. Start the conversation with something like, "I'm not complaining, but I need to let you know...." or "I can definitely handle this situation, but it is bothering me. The other day, he...." Another way to discuss something is to email it. If you need to explain something difficult, write it down and ponder the way it sounds. Wait a day, revise, edit, etc., and then send it. At the social worker's visit, discuss the email and the resolution. Don't be afraid to ask for resources to handle a situation. They are there to provide you with any resources that you may need for the children.

  10. Always thank the worker for stopping by and for doing his/her job. These types of jobs are thankless. They don't often see the fruit of their labor, are often burnt out and are definitely underpaid.

  11. Keep the line of communication open after the visit with texts and emails updating the worker. I would often send nice pictures to her of the kids having fun or interacting with our family. Send pics of happy events; that way when there is a problem, she will know you are not just a complaining person, but you are objectively evaluating the situation. I emailed updates of occurrences on a set time table (every other week for example) and always kept a positive tone to the email message.

  12. Lastly, let the kids be involved in the meeting. Have them tell the worker what they have accomplished, learned, done, or experienced in the last month. Call them over one at a time to spend a minute with the worker and give her individual time with that child. I often walked away so I wasn't hovering and the worker knew I had nothing to hide. If the children did not take one-on-one time with her, I would evaluate the interaction and see if it was appropriate. Most of the time it was fine. Just make sure you provide some time to discuss the children without them hearing you talking about them when sensitive information may be discussed.

Get teens involved in all the conversations with the workers. [Want more info on fostering teens? Check this out: https://impressingminds.com/10-reasons-to-foster-teens/]


Communication Skills

Rehearse what you will say to the worker and jot down notes on your pad of paper. I liked using a legal-size pad! This way, I had plenty of room to write new information. I left it on the counter in the kitchen. The worker and I talked in the kitchen and the kids played in the living room with a clear sightline.

Be pleasant and smile. Maintain good eye contact with the worker while watching the children. Always monitor the children while conducting the visit. You are the host and must be in control of both areas.


Rehearse what you will say to the worker and jot down notes on your pad of paper. I liked using a legal-size pad! This way, I had plenty of room to write new information. I left it on the counter in the kitchen. The worker and I talked in the kitchen and the kids played in the living room with a clear sightline.


Be pleasant and smile. Maintain good eye contact with the worker while watching the children. Always monitor the children while conducting the visit. You are the host and must be in control of both areas.


Prepare the children for the visit by getting them dressed up a bit.

What Not to Wear

You should wear typical clothing or a little more upscale than normal. Have everyone bathed, clean, and tidy - including the children's hair combed and in a neat style. For me, I would wear yoga pants and a nice, well-fitting shirt. That is what I wear in my home. Often, I would still have my work clothes on and that is great too. It gives them a good perception of you if you work.


Thoughts on Surviving a CPS visit with foster children

What else would you add? How do you perceive the visits? Are they enjoyable or dreadful? For me, it was always dependent on who the social worker was. I enjoyed some workers much more than others. RIGHT!!! I made friends, or tried to, with each of them. Let me know your experiences in the comments! AND what are you most afraid of when they come to do a routine visit?

Interested in the life of a CPS worker? Check out this link to read one worker's perspective... https://news4sanantonio.com/news/local/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-cps-case-worker

Read a story of foster success here: https://impressingminds.com/forgotten-to-forgiven/

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Impressing Minds is about creating value in the mind of a child through the foster parents. Imagine the mind of a child being made of play-doh, and you are about to make a permanent impression. What type of impression will you make? I will encourage you to make a soft, lasting, affirmative impression in their mind by giving tools to get started fostering, accomplishing a great foster care home, and serving the children in your care. I offer support to you and others fostering. An important element of Impressing Minds is the support that others have given to those in need.

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