A contact centre is a venue which can be used for contact to take place between a child and the non-resident parent.
A contact centre can be useful where it is important to reintroduce a child to a parent, for example where contact has not taken place for some time.
Also if a parent has concerns with regards to the child’s welfare during contact, then the centre can be seen as a safe and neutral environment for contact to take place.
The centres themselves differ from each town to another, but mainly allow a parent to have contact with their child/children either on a Saturday or a Sunday. The centres have some toys for the children so that they are able to play and feel relaxed.
It is important to be aware that contact at a contact centre is not supervised in that there are normally volunteers who will monitor the families, but they will not specifically supervise a child.
If there are welfare concerns with regards to a parent having unsupervised contact with a child, then a contact centre may not be a suitable venue for contact.
It can be agreed between the parents as to whether a child remains in the centre during contact or be permitted to leave the centre with their parent.
Arrangements can be made for there to be staggered times for the handover which means that one parent will arrive at the centre early and drop the child off, whilst the other parent will arrive about 10 minutes after so that parties do not have to meet.
Arrangements can also be made for an agreed neutral third party handover the child to the centre, on behalf of a parent, if a parent is concerned about their wellbeing during the handover.
To set up contact at a centre, a referral needs to be made setting out details as to the parent’s details and any information which is relevant to the child.
If you are unsure as to whether it is appropriate for contact to take place at a contact centre and seek further advice, contact me on 0115 923 2193.