All Party Parliamentary Group – Child Contact Centre Services
Following Baroness McIntosh’s support of child contact centres and the work of the Accreditation Bill last year an All Party Parliamentary Group has been set up with the support of MP Chris Leslie and Baroness Ann McIntosh. This group will have its first meeting in late January and has been set up to look at the journey for children and families post separation. With several government departments with a direct interest in family relationships (Department for Work and Pensions, Home Office, Department for Communities and Local Government, Department of Education, Department of Health and the Ministry of Justice) the need for a coordinated response is great.
Elizabeth Coe (NACCC’s CEO) will be speaking at this first meeting and will be ensuring that those present are made aware of the unique role of NACCC as the only organisation implementing national standards and training for contact centres round the UK. Elizabeth will also explain the importance of family support services in the UK not necessarily requiring court intervention – separated parent intervention programmes (SPIP), mediation and of course supported and supervised child contact centres – all working to help separated families deal with the emotions and conflict that can arise. Further details to follow…
Baroness McIntosh’s support of child contact centres and the Accreditation Bill
Charity Commission: regulatory alert on safeguarding, and case report
The Charities Commission has published a regulatory alert to charities following a number of serious incidents reported to the Commission, and recent public interest about accusations of harassment in the work place, including media reporting about some safeguarding incidents which have affected charity beneficiaries, charity workers or other persons coming into contact with charities. The guidance states that on occasion, charities may be targeted by people who abuse their position and privileges to gain access to vulnerable people or their records for inappropriate or illegal purposes – trustees must be alert to this risk and the need to manage it. Safeguarding of course goes beyond preventing physical abuse, and includes protecting people from harm generally, including neglect, emotional abuse, exploitation, radicalisation, and the consequences of the misuse of personal data.
New standards for supervised contact coming into force
The new Supervised Standards for Enhanced Accreditation are coming into force in March this year. Centres that are due for enhanced re-accreditation from March onwards will be assessed using the new standards. A new assessment checklist has been developed which is available for members to download from the members’ area of the website.
Catch up on what has been happening in our latest news since the last issue
Practice Direction 12J: New guidance issued for judges in child contact cases
Elizabeth Coe represented NACCC and child contact centres on the ‘Westminster Dialogue’ panel in November last year. The meeting discussed the new substituted practice direction “Practice Direction 12J – Child Arrangements & Contact Order: Domestic Violence and Harm” and the paper “Westminster Dialogue Norman Hartnell Response”. The substituted practice direction was announced by Sir James Munby, (President of the Family Division and NACCC Patron) in September.
Sir James Munby endorses revised Protocol for referrals of families to child contact centres
NACCC would like to thank Sir James Munby (President of the Family Division and Patron of NACCC) for endorsing the revised protocol for referrals of families to child contact centres by judges and magistrates. The first Protocol designed to assist judges and magistrates making orders referring families to child contact centres, was originally introduced in 2000 following widespread consultation. Endorsed by the President of the Family Division, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss it was subsequently approved by her successor Sir Mark Potter, and then revised and strengthened by Sir Nicholas Wall in 2010. Since 2010 there have been changes to the Family Justice System which necessitated a further update to this Protocol.
This update was followed up by an article by Elizabeth Coe and printing of the protocol in the Family Law Journal.
EIF Commissioner Guide: Reducing the impact of interparental conflict on children
The Early Intervention Foundation has published a practical planning tool to support local commissioners and leaders of services for children and families to reduce the impact of conflict between parents on children. This resource highlights the latest scientific and intervention evidence on how the interparental relationship affects multiple outcomes for children, including emotional, behavioural, social and academic development.