Child contact centres will have measures in place for parents who do not want to meet their ex partner, this can be discussed at the point of first contact with the centre or within your pre visit.

Not wanting to see or speak to the other parent of your children is quite normal when families start to use a contact centre. However, there will come a time when your children will need you to be able to cooperate with their other parent in order to give them the best possible chances in life. Therefore, it might be worth taking some time to think about how you might achieve this in the future.

In the short term a centre will support you in not speaking to or even seeing the other parent, if this is what you want. This can be achieved with staggered arrivals and departures; it is also possible for most centres to take the children from one parent in the waiting room to the other parent in the contact room. So, it can be possible for you not to have to speak to the other parent whilst using a centre.

Why not contact your local centre to share your worries with them? You might be surprised how much they can do to help.

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NACCC has an information line which runs part time (9am to 1pm Monday to Friday). Please try and find out the answer to your query on our website but if you are unable to find what you are looking for please do call the information line on 0115 948 4557. You can also contact us at any time using the Contact form on this website.

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Preparing children for the use of child contact centres is key to the service going well. Children will be experiencing a wide range of feelings and emotions and these can be exacerbated by previous experiences of trauma for example. Children often do not have the capacity to understand these emotions, particularly when they are experiencing several emotions that seem to contradict one and other.

Children will often worry about upsetting one or the other parent by having contact and will often place themselves in the impossible situation of trying to appease the needs of both parents at once. Where this happens, this can be particularly upsetting and distressing for children and in some circumstances their parents too. For example, children might choose to tell a parent that their time with the other parent is “horrible” or “boring”, they might also share experiences that are reportedly occurred when spending time with the other parent that might be out of context or not factual. They do this because they think this is what the parent wants to hear, and in some cases this might well be true. However, what this also does is creates an environment where parents are increasingly fractious towards each other and the situation, therefore making it harder for them to be able to communicate and work together in the interests of the children. In some cases, the child’s perceived need to appease their parents like this can lead to child protection referrals or police investigations. 

Understanding the needs of children and working with them to ensure these needs are met, so far as is possible is crucial for the whole family, their ability to engage with services and most importantly their ability to be able to move on from services.

The parents that have children living with them are often well placed to take meaningful steps to prepare children for face to face contact. How this might look will vary from child to child and family to family, but typically it might include:

  1. It being ok or better still encouraged to talk about contact and the other parent at home. Making something “ok” goes much further than saying it. Children must genuinely feel it.
  2. Children should have a safe place to be able to ask questions about contact and where possible these should be answered as positively as possible.
  3. Children might be helped to remember positive memories relating to the other parent, so that they are able to remember better times.
  4. Children having access to photographs of the parent it is proposed that they will be sharing time with.
  5. Children could be supported to visit the NACCC website for more information, or where possible the website of the centre.
  6. Children should also be offered the opportunity to have a pre-visit at the centre so that they have information shared with them as a level they are able to make sense of.
  7. Childline also provide a free and confidential service to children who are worried. Often because they are strangers without emotional involvement, they are amazingly well placed to help children develop a sense of perspective and overcome some of the anxieties they may have. Let your child know, its ok to talk to Childline.

Child contact centres will also have a range of ways that they support children to access services. These can vary and might include pre-visits or the use of resources. Other centres might also offer introductory sessions where children are prepared for the contact, prior to this taking place. This can happen face to face at the centre, or increasingly centres are finding innovative ways of using technology to support families to feel safe and supported when accessing services. The key is that every child and every situation is different, and centres will have the skills to develop their responses to families to ensure they are supported in such a way that best meets their needs.

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You can apply to see your grandchildren in a child contact centre, however all parties must be in agreement to make a self-referral successful. If legal assistance is required you can access a free legal conversation with a family law professional on the Family Law Panel Organisations that may also be useful for further advice are Grandparents Plus. Gransnet and Family Lives may be able to provide emotional support regarding lost contact.

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Are you finding that conversations regarding your children’s arrangements result in arguments? Is it impossible to reach an agreement about contact? If you are finding it difficult to discuss arrangements regarding your children with your ex-partner or family then it may be that a child contact service would be helpful in the short term. Supported child contact centres can provide a safe neutral place for contact where you as family members do not have to see each other face to face if this is going to be easier for you.

If you have experienced domestic abuse and need somewhere safe for your child to spend time with your ex-partner or family member in a supervised environment, then it might be worth discussing this with your local supervised centre. If you are concerned that your child might be at risk of harm, then a supervised centre might be a way of re-establishing contact whilst ensuring that your child’s physical and emotional well-being are maintained.

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Your local centre may have published the costs of contact on our ‘Find a centre’ service. Do search to see if the centre’s prices are showing or contact the centre direct for full details.

The price of child contact is often dependant on several factors and the cost can vary significantly. Elements that can effect cost can relate to how the centre is funded, the range of services on offer, the expertise of staff offering a service as well as the cost of all of the usual overheads associated with running a service. 

Sometimes, this cost will be covered by Cafcass or Social Services, on other occasions you might be responsible for paying any associated fees.

Being a membership organisation, NACCC does not have any involvement with charges for services. Please check with your local centre for any enquiries on costs for their services.

Many centres are aware of how finance can be a barrier to children having contact and they might have a way of being able to support with this or signposting to other services that have the resource to be able to support. Whilst, we can’t guarantee a solution that will suite all, it might be worth having a discussion with your local centre.

Other organisations like Families Need Fathers, Match Mothers and Only Mums or Only Dads might also have information that might assist here.

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We are aware of a charity organisation called Turn2us, who advise on benefits and have recently opened what they call a Response Fund. Please contact them directly for criteria requirements.

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The pre-visit meeting is a chance to relay all your concerns to the centre and for them to ensure that they have all the correct information about your family. You will meet with the co-ordinator of the centre and they will explain how the centre runs and what you can expect. They will also go through the rules and regulations of the centre and if you agree to this they may offer you times and dates of when you can attend. The contact centre agreement form should be signed by yourself and they should also let you know about their compliments and complaints procedure.

The pre visit meeting should also include a chance to view the contact area although this may not always be possible. The young person should also have a pre-visit meeting, ideally separate from the adult’s meeting however individual centres will manage this in different ways.

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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. They are child-centred environments that provide toys, games and facilities that reflect the diverse needs of children affected by family breakdown. 

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A self-referral is where you as parents each complete an application form to request that contact be set up at a child contact centre. In order for this to work well there may need to be some communication between you, in terms of liaising about dates and times of appointments for example.

If you are not allowed to contact your ex-partner, then it may not be possible to do a self-referral and you may need to get a third party such as a solicitor or mediator to complete a referral form on your behalf.

A self-referral application form will ask you to share information with the centre in order that they can set up contact safely for your child. This could include details of organisations helping you, details about your current circumstances and that of your children.

You can check on our Find a Centre service to see if your local centre accepts self-referrals and whether you can apply to them direct or if you need to apply via NACCC’s Safe Referral System. NACCC’s Safe Referral System is a website which helps you to apply to child contact centres registered on the system.

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NACCC is not responsible for the direct running of child contact centres as these are all independent organisations with their own management. Contact centres might be run by charities, councils or limited companies and therefore, they are usually owned by the people that run them – NACCC is a membership organisation and members choose to be accredited by us. NACCC’s role is to ensure that child contact centres work to the national standards for supported contact and supervised contact, which ensure that families using the services are safe. The national standards are updated by NACCC in line with legislation and good practice.

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