Child Contact Centres
Child contact centres are neutral places where children meet the mother or father who no longer lives at home with them. They provide a valuable service in allowing contact to take place which would otherwise not happen. There are two types of child contact services; supported and supervised.
Supported child contact centres are usually held in a church halls or community centres. They have facilities to enable children to build up or maintain their bond with the non-resident parent and other family members. Staff and volunteers are there to assist parents and to help create a nice comfortable atmosphere. They also deal with the handover of the child so ex-partners don’t need to meet. The staff are completely impartial and are not there to monitor or write reports about parents. The only things recorded are the dates and times of attendance.
If the contact goes well, and everyone agrees, a next step can be for the parent and child to spend some time outside of the contact centre together. Sometimes the contact centre is used just to help with the handovers. Hopefully there will come a time when everyone feels confident that the contact centre is no longer needed.
If you feel that a contact centre would be helpful to you, visit http://www.naccc.org.uk/ or talk to your solicitor, social worker or possibly your health visitor or doctor. It is always better for the centre if they make the referral. Some centres accept self referrals but it varies and you will need to check with the service concerned directly.
Supported contact centres are suitable for families where no significant risk to the child or those around the child have been identified. Where there are risk factors, supervised contact may be necessary. Supervised contact gives priority to the physical safety and emotional well being of a child. It also assists in building and sustaining positive relationships between a child and members of their non-resident family. This requires supervisors who are skilled and confident enough to intervene immediately and firmly if necessary and can work professionally in a planned way with vulnerable children and highly distressed adults. Referrals will usually be made by a court, CAFCASS officer, local authority or another child contact centre.
Follow this link for further information on what to expect when separating