Frequently Asked Questions
The City Mission Child Contact Centre is a safe, neutral place where a child can enjoy uninterrupted contact in a neutral venue with a visiting parent after a family breakdown. The City Mission Child Contact Centre is a breathing space but it also offers all parents a stepping stone to sort out contact arrangements away from the centre:
The Centre is run by trained staff who are impartial and do not get involved in disputes between parents. They work to a confidentiality policy and are DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checked.
The Centre has comfortable warm rooms and is equipped with toys for a wide age range. The most important people in the Centre are the children.
The centre is open for contact Monday to Saturday 9am-5.30pm.
What we do: Supervised Contact.
Supervised contact is used when it has been determined that a child has suffered or is at risk of suffering harm during contact. Referrals will usually be made by the court or solicitor. We also accept self referrals.
Supervised contact ensures 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.
Supervised contact requires the following:
Individual supervision of contact with the supervisor in constant sight and sound of the child, which, in turn requires that they have the support of a nearby colleague.
A high commitment of resources including continuity of supervision and the professional oversight of staff.
The supervisor and the Centre having access to all relevant court papers and transcripts of any judgments in order to supervise effectively. The party making the referral ensuring that the court gives permission for such disclosure.
All contact to be closely observed and recorded in a manner appropriate to the purpose of protecting children and working in a planned way with parents.
Contact is time limited with a planned aim to regularly access and review progress and the possibility of safer future outcomes.
The level of supervision may be reduced in a planned way after a professional assessment has been made. Some families, after being assessed, may move from constant supervision to an immediate level of supervision or supported contact.
What we do: Supported Contact.
This provision is suitable for families where there no significant risk to the child or those around the child is identifiable. No reports are necessary. Staff are available for assistance but there is no close observation, monitoring or evaluation of individual contacts/conversation.
Parents do not need to meet. The Centre can be involved in handovers between parents at the centre. Where parents don’t want to meet, a member of staff takes the child from one parent to the other. There is usually a 15 minutes window between handovers, thus allowing either parent enough time to handover without meeting each other.
How often can contact take place?
After the initial pre-visit, arrangements will be made through the Coordinator. We recommend that for small babies, weekly for 1 hour is preferable to fortnightly for 2 hours. We have no time limit for the number of visits but encourage families to move on when possible.
What happens on arrival?
The non-resident parent will undergo temperature checks and will be asked to adhere to our COVID-19 procedures i.e handwashing. They will also need to sign in as a health and safety requirement.
Children will not be received in until the non-resident parent has arrived.
Who is in charge?
The Coordinator/Manager organises the overall running of the Centre.
Who is allowed to have contact?
The person(s) stated on the court order or whoever has been mutually agreed beforehand.
What are the costs?
Please see cost sheet. Cost need to be paid in advance of contact taking place. Cancelled contact will not be refunded.
Card and cash payments are accepted. However, online banking is preferred.
What if parents can’t attend?
They should let each other know if possible and must phone the Centre Coordinator on 07464 484423.
Parents must also ring if they will be late arriving for contact.
Are reports about contact given to other agencies and statutory bodies?
Arrangements may be made with the Coordinator for your contact to be observed by an outside agency involved in contact arrangements such as CAFCASS or Social Workers. These arrangements must be made in advance.
Do parents have to meet?
Clients do not have to meet. The non- resident parent/carer and child(ren) can gain access to the contact area 15 minutes prior to resident parent. It may be necessary for visitors to remain behind for 5-15 minutes to prevent contact outside on leaving.
Can the child go out?
Yes, if it has been arranged beforehand with the referrer or the resident parent/carer. Some families use the Centre as a handover point when both sides have agreed or there is a court order stipulating this. In this instance the visiting parent may take the child(ren) out of the Centre during the hours of contact and then return the child(ren) to the Centre to be handed back to the resident parent/carer.
Are there any rules?
We try to have as few rules as possible. However, as the Contact Centre is used by several families at the same time, consideration for the comfort and safety of all users is important.
Therefore, we’re grateful to families for following these guidelines which are there to help everyone maintain a friendly and safe atmosphere:
At all times, access to the Contact Centre is by prior appointment only.
Parents are responsible for the safety and supervision of their children at all times while at the Contact Centre and also for all personal belongings. No child may be left without a parent in attendance. Volunteers will help hand your child over from one parent to the other, but one parent must not leave the Centre until the child is safely in the care of the other parent.
A child may be taken out of the Contact Centre during a visit only if it is so stated on the referral form or with the written consent of both parents.
Relatives and friends – other than the parents – can only attend if they are named on the referral form.
Alcohol and drugs are not permitted on the premises. Centre staff reserve the right to refuse entry to anyone they feel would compromise the safety of the other users.
Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the premises; parents may not leave the premises for a smoke during a contact visit.
The privacy and confidentiality of other clients should be respected.
There must be no arguing in front of the children. Abusive, disruptive or aggressive behaviour and offensive remarks will not be tolerated. Any visitor acting in this way will be asked to leave.
By mutual agreement between both parties, volunteers are happy to overview toileting and changing. If this is not acceptable, the adult bringing the child must remain in waiting room to help if required.
The Contact Centre Management Committee has drawn up a full set of policies for child protection, health and safety and other procedures at the Centre. These are available for you to view at any session – just ask the Supervisor on duty.
It is unfair to draw children into parental disputes or pump them for information – the Centre is a safe area where they can feel unpressured, be able to enjoy themselves and have good memories.
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