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Child contact centres are located throughout the United Kingdom. They are run by trained volunteers and staff who should stay impartial and not take sides in any conflict and who have enhanced CRB checks. They are meant to be a neutral environment for children to spend time with a parent who they no longer live with. The centres are generally equipped with toys, games and other child friendly facilities. Most supported centres are free or at a relatively low cost for parents.
They are meant to be a short-term solution only of usually between 6 – 10 sessions although at times parents and children can be using them much longer because their case has not progressed satisfactorily or there is no where else available to the parents. Often they are only used a couple of times by parents and the court who may come up with other suggestions such as a public library or children’s centre which may be more convenient.
The volunteers and staff who run these centres are usually aware of the difficulties parents face at times and should understand that children need to have a relationship with both of their parents for their own emotional welfare. Child contact centres are independent of the courts, social services and any other statutory agency and generally do not make verbal or written reports about visits, except for attendance notes.
Supported contact at a child contact centre means there is no close observation and no monitoring or evaluation of parents and children. Although there will be someone in the vicinity to assist if necessary with handovers and pointing out where items and beverage facilities are located.
Supervised contact at a child contact centre means that there will always be someone relatively close monitoring the situation, they will sometimes be social workers or have other relevant qualifications. They will write reports of each session which will be available to the parents and the court if required although you may have to obtain them from CAFCASS if they are involved.