Supervised childrens contact?

Anyone got any experiance of?

18 messages
06/07/2010 at 08:33

To cut a long story short, leaving out specific details.........

My daughter isn't allowed (at the request of childrens social services) to have unsupervised contact with my ex, this has been the case for the best part of two years, in which time, childrens services were doing supervised contact at least once a month.

They now want to pull out of supporting contact, due to funding, although they still don't recommend unsupervised contact.

The courts are reluctant to "force" anything, because they say this will set a precedent for lots of other cases, seems this is quite a common issue, obviously childrens services are extremely underfunded, or totally bloody useless, or both, CAFCASS aren't interested, which then only leaves private supervision (£120 a hour), which I'd have to pay for.

Bottomline, my ex's solicitor is now putting me under pressure to supervise contact, which is wholey inappropritate IMO, so this basically leaves my daughter having no contact with her mum.

So I am in a bit of a rock / hard place situation,  anyone been in, or know of, someone in a similar position?, anyone found a soloution?

seren nos yn canu    pirate
06/07/2010 at 09:21

our local children centre organised a contact centre in our church for years...........they had referrals from solicitors.........people from the church acted as volunteeres to make coffee etc whilst the second parent could have  asafe place with the children.there were several familes there at once............there were seperate entrances for the estranged parents even.......

Maybe there are some of these contact centres in your area......

not sure what else to suggest but good luck

06/07/2010 at 09:26
See if CAB are any good in your area - they may have some suggestions of places whjere you can get help with this
06/07/2010 at 09:27

They are grandparents, however, there are certain issues pertaining to my ex which makes supervising contact for a non professional a little bit difficult, daunting and uncomfortable, hence not being able to use services like seren mentions.

Thats the key issue for me, these problems are bad enough to warrant childrens services getting involved, and saying no unsupervised contact in the first place, the problems are still there, however, they now want to close the case because they say their involvment is no longer neccesary, so childrens services are selling me, and my daughter up the river.

Nam
06/07/2010 at 09:32

Seren got there before me. 

Supervised contact doesn't always have to take place via social services.  A range of organisations provide these so called contact centres, of which many are very nice.  A few organisations I know of are:

http://www.family-action.org.uk/section.aspx?id=774

http://www.theappropriateadultservice.org.uk/supervisedcontact.htm

http://www.familieshouse.org.uk/contact.html

http://www.wrixoncare.co.uk/contact_visits_hertfordshire.html

There are many many others and maybe you can google for "contact centre" in your local area?

Furthermore, upon assessment contact can also be supervised by a member of the family.  I had many mums on my caseload where supervised contact was via the grandparents.  But of course the grandparents had to be assessed first and the understanding that the supervised parent is not to be left unsupervised with the child is made clear.

I hope this helps.

Edited: 06/07/2010 at 09:37
06/07/2010 at 09:37

Thanks, families house was one of the options offered at the last contact hearing, however, again it all came back to who would fund it, social services aren't prepared to, niether are CAFCASS.

I'll check out some of the links, but I know for a fact that there is no possiblity of any of the family supervising contact.

Nam
06/07/2010 at 09:42

If the need is there they have to pay for it.  They can't have it both ways!!  They either say the risk is sufficiently diminished no longer to require supervised contact, OR they say the risk is still there and contact must be supervised, in which case they have to pay for it.

If the risk is still there and they withdraw supervised contact and something goes wrong, their heads would be rolling in a major major way, and personally I would not want to be in the person's shoes to have made that decision based on funding alone!!

Is there a free legal advocacy service in your area you can discuss this with? 

Nam
06/07/2010 at 09:48

I would also advise that if there are any other agencies involved such as mental health or drugs services, to discuss your concerns with them as it might help to have them on side.

06/07/2010 at 09:50

Exactly, and that is my feeling, but their point is that supervising contact isn't under their remit, they are only there for children at risk, and as my daughter isn't at risk (only during contact), then its not a priority for them, as its "only" contact, and they have more important cases to spend their budget on, their words.

The judge says that he is loathed to force either CAFCASS or childrens services to pay, because of the precident it would set.

My ex has a solicitor, and she is as motivated as anyone is to try and get this contact sorted out, but all she is coming up against is brickwalls, normally funding related.

Nam
06/07/2010 at 10:13

This is just awful.

I fear with the cuts that every local authority is facing we'll see a lot more of that.  I can kind of see where they are coming from.  Despite the level of risk in your case, if compared to the rest of their caseload, it probably pales in comparison.  Hard to imagine but it probably does.

But if I were in your shoes, my argument would be that they have admitted that there IS risk during contact (keep anything in writing, take notes of conversations had etc) and therefore have a duty to resolve that risk.

Their argument that the risk is "only during contact" is kind of ridiculous.  So what do they propose?  That your daughter never sees her mother again because they are unwilling to manage the risk cos it costs too much now? I'd like to hear that from the horses mouth!! 

And it is not your responsibility to manage the risk your ex poses to your daughter!  What are you supposed to do?  Say to your ex "you pose a risk, you have to pay £120 if you want to see your daughter!"...?

Try to google "advocacy services for social services clients" for your area and see if there is a free legal advocacy service around you can discuss this with?

ps maybe shoot off an email to these peeps? http://www.resolution.org.uk/contact_us/

Edited: 06/07/2010 at 10:19
06/07/2010 at 10:21

Thanks Nam, at least its not just me that thinks this a mad situation, I have a meeting with childrens services this afternoon "with a view to closing the case", so I'll see how that pans out and take it from there.

Will google the advoacy services aswell.

Nam
06/07/2010 at 10:32

Best of luck. Also question the costs.

Looking at the National Children's Centre Contact Centre charging £12.50 per hour I'm not totally sure where they're getting the £120 from...  but in either case it's the visiting parent that actually has to pay that cost not the resident parent.

ps the National Association of Contact Centres have a helpline... just in case it's helpful http://www.naccc.org.uk/cms/index.php

Edited: 06/07/2010 at 10:36
06/07/2010 at 10:50

A number of options spring to mind.

It depends on the raesons behind the initial order, and also whether or not circumstances have changed. Usually orders that specify supervised contact do so for a good reason, and it's normally Social Services call.  Usually they feel that there is a risk involved and they would need to convince a review board that the situation has changed.

I would seriously question the concept of lack of finances as being a good reason to drop the supervision.  Get that in writing first.

Contact  your local Children's Centre, they may be able to help you. Some schools can also assist in this way. We do.

06/07/2010 at 10:53

Nam makes many good points.

If I could launch another, raher blunt one into the debate - if they remove the contat clause because of finance, and something happens..... the papers abd the courts would nail someone's arse to the wall.

06/07/2010 at 11:00

The circumstances haven't changed, infact, we have a professional report (ordered by the court) from an independent psychiatrist that backs up the original request for supervised contact.

I wonder if it is even legal for social services to pull out without the judge's say so?, surely they are still under order from the court?

Edit : actually, thinking about it, this meeting could be a pre-amble to them requesting (telling?) the judge that they are going to close the case.

Edited: 06/07/2010 at 11:02
06/07/2010 at 11:20
MMMMM  it was a court order for contact to be supervised?
06/07/2010 at 11:24
No, not specifically, it was ordered to determine if contact could be unsupervised, as my ex wants unsupervised contact, and childrens services are wriggling.
06/07/2010 at 11:30
Thought so. Its usually Childrens services who determine the level of risk and what appropriate steps shoudl be taken to safeguard them. You need a definitive response from CS that states clearly, their reason for removing that security.

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