Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Child Contact Centre?
A Child Contact Centre is a safe, friendly and neutral place where children of separated families can spend time with one or both parents, and sometimes other family members. It is a child-centred environment that puts the needs of the children first. There is no charge for using the Centre.
What is it like at a Child Contact Centre?
The most important people in the Child Contact Centre are the children. We aim to create a warm, sociable atmosphere where you and your children can relax and enjoy yourselves. The Centre has an area with a variety of games, toys and books for children of all ages. Tea, coffee and other refreshments are provided at reasonable prices. You may want to bring along some favourite toys, special drinks, or other things you might need such as nappies.
The Child Contact Centre is run by fully trained, unpaid volunteers. They are impartial, so they do not take sides. They work to a strict confidentiality policy and have all been DBS checked. A Coordinator organises the overall running of the Centre and is the person through whom arrangements for contact should be made.
How are the visits arranged?
Visits are by referral. The referral can be made by a social worker, solicitor, family mediator, CAFCASS officer (formerly known as a court family welfare officer), or by a court order. The person making the referral fills out a referral form and sends it to the Centre Coordinator. It is necessary for you (the parent) and your
child or children to come and see the Centre before your first arranged visit. This will help you get to know the Centre and the staff, and make your first visit easier.
Does the Centre make any reports about us?
A Child Contact Centre is independent of the courts, social services or any statutory agency. We do not make verbal or written reports about visits, apart from
the dates and times of attendance.The only exception to this is if we believe that a child is at risk, or if a volunteer or Centre user is at risk of harm.
The parent that is living with the child/children.
When I drop my child/children off may I stay?
In order to give your former partner time with the child/children, we encourage you to leave the play area. You may stay in the waiting room or visit the nearby
The parent that is living away from the child/children and who wants to have contact
What happens if I can't come at a time I've arranged a visit?
Let your former partner and the Centre Coordinator know as soon as you can.
May I bring a new partner?
As this is a special time for children to spend with the parent they no longer live with, we ask that any new partners do not attend the Centre. Also, please keep disagreements out of the Child Contact Centre. Remember that your child is probably hurting too. Make this a happy time for them.
Do I have to meet my ex-partner when I go to the Centre?
Not if you don't want to. Parents are responsible for their children at all times while at the Centre so you will have to wait with your child until your ex-partner arrives. However, the Centre staff can deal with the handover of your child so you don't need to meet your former partner.
Are there any rules?
As few as possible! However, the Centre is used by several families at the same time, so we have to ensure the safety of everyone and consideration for others:
Parents are responsible for the safety and supervision of their children at all times while at the Centre. No child may be left without a parent in attendance.
You must provide a contact telephone number when leaving children at the Centre.
A child may only be taken from the Centre during a visit if this is stated on the referral form, or with the written consent of the resident parent.
Relatives or friends can only attend if they are named on the referral form.
There must be no arguing in front of any of the children. Abusive or aggressive behaviour and racist or other offensive remarks will not be tolerated. Any visitor acting in such a way will be asked to leave.
Please keep disagreements out of the Child Contact Centre. Remember that your child is probably hurting too. Make this a happy time for them.
Switch off your mobile phone while you're with your child.
Don't bring any pets.
No taking of photographs, video filming, or use of portable computers unless the other party and the Coordinator or Team Leader have given their permission.
Alcohol, drugs or anyone under the influence of these will not be allowed onto the premises.