In most cases when parents separate it is in the best interests of a child to remain in contact with both of them. Sometimes this can be very difficult for the parents themselves to arrange. Child contact centres provide a key role in helping children affected by family breakdown to maintain a relationship with the parent who no longer lives with them in a safe, neutral environment, away from high conflict situations.
What types of contact are there?
- In centre supported contact a child friendly room is provided within the contact centre for children to meet with and spend time with a parent. Sometimes several families will be together in the same room but there is always plenty of space. A member of staff accompanies the child when going to and from the contact room, and the parents do not see one another.
- Supported handover contact - the child contact centre is used only as the drop off and pick up point, contact with the child then takes place outwith the centre. Again, a member of staff accompanies the child when going from one parent to the other so that the adults do not have to meet.
- Supervised contact - the contact takes place in the constant presence of a supervisor with responsibility to observe contact and intervene if required.
How do people get to use the contact centres?
Most referrals are from the court but self referrals can be accepted.
Is there a cost?
Some centres have an administrative charge but charges are usually nominal and will vary from centre to centre.
- Contact centres are not specifically for children at risk e.g. from recovering drug addicts or alcoholics
- It is not for parents who cannot look after their child
- It doesn't provide constant scrutiny when contact takes place
- Supported contact does not mean that a parent is 'watched'
The aim of child contact centres is to provide a relaxed atmosphere with games and activities for the child to participate in. In situations where, as a result of a separation, a child has not seen one parent for a long time, the environment within the centre is an ideal place to re-establish the parent/child relationship on a short term basis.
If you need legal advice to assist in resolving contact with your child, get in touch.