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We are a membership body for around 300 child contact centres and services located throughout England (including the Channel Isles), Wales and Northern Ireland. It is the largest child contact accreditation body in Europe. We oversee nearly 3,000 volunteers and 1,500 staff. Our mission remains that parenting shouldn’t end when relationships do.

We were set up to in 1991 to keep children in touch with parents following divorce and separation.

Accredit child contact centres help parents and children in five main ways:

  • Provide a safe, neutral, welcoming space for children to spend time with parents (or other people important to them).
  • Support parents to help them prioritise the needs of their children post separation.
  • Promote mediation so that long-term solutions can be found to keep children in touch with both parents.
  • Offer resources, information and advice for families dealing with separation.
  • Provide specialist supervised interventions where children may be exposed to a higher level of risk.

We also provide the following services;

  • As part of our accreditation services, we have also delivered training sessions for approximately 300 judges and 1,300 volunteers undertook 10 training modules over the last year.
  • We run an AGM and conference which provides updates and training for all our members.
  • We have a national information Line for parents and carers and a members’ information line.
  • We also have a safe referral online system and hub support programme.
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There are approximately 2.4 million separated families in Great Britain including 3.5 million children (Department of Work and Pensions 2020). Many of these children risk losing contact with a parent within the first two years of separation; this could be as many as 1 million young people (Centre for Social Justice, 2013).

The majority (92%) of all lone-parent households with dependent children are headed by mothers meaning that there could be nearly 1 million children/young adults in the UK growing up without any meaningful contact with their father. A lack of contact or exposure to conflict, has a negative impact on a child’s emotional health (RCPsych, 2017) and educational wellbeing (Institute of Education, 2009), as well as having a negative impact on the wider economy (Relationships Foundation, 2016). These negative impacts can start from 6 months-old and last into adolescence and adulthood (Action for Children, 2017).

Children who experience family breakdown are more likely to experience behavioural problems, perform less well in school, need more medical treatment, leave school and home earlier, become sexually active, pregnant, or a parent at an early age, and report more depressive symptoms and higher levels of smoking, drinking and other drug use during adolescence and adulthood.

NACCC provides robust and detailed statistics on the operation of accredited child contact centres across the UK. We collect statistics from accredited centres on a quarterly basis. Information is collected online and is provided to The Ministry of Justice, Cafcass and available on request. Centres are required to submit statistics as part of their accreditation process to meet NACCC’s standards. We capture the number and origin of referrals for contact, capturing referral sources including ‘online’, ‘self’ referrals, ‘Cafcass’, ‘solicitors’, ‘local authorities / children’s services’, ‘family mediation’ and ‘courts’. We also monitor the number of children, families, volunteers, and paid staff working in supervised and supported centres.

Additional research links;

Impact of Family Breakdown on Children’s Well-Being: Evidence Review

Coronavirus: Separated Families and Contact with Children in Care FAQs (UK) October 2020

MoJ Assessing Risk of Harm to Children and Parents in Private Law Children Cases Final Report June 2020

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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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Child Contact is a short-term intervention, following divorce or separation, to keep children in contact with their non-resident parent. Child contact is designed to ensure children retain meaningful relationships with their non-resident parent and establish safe and beneficial contact when this is difficult to do on their own. 

There are two types of contact services supervised and supported. Supported contact is direct contact which gives some support from a child contact centre worker to adults so that they can meet the needs of their child(ren). Supervised contact is used when it has been determined that a child has suffered or is at risk of suffering harm during contact. Parents can ‘self- refer’ to a contact service or be referred via a third party such as a family solicitor, mediation service, court, Cafcass officer, local authority or another child contact centre.

Child contact is often used as part of a range of interventions including Planning Together for Children and mediation.

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NACCC 2020 Registered Charity Number 1078636 and a company limited by guarantee no 3886023.

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Local authorities discharge their statutory obligation under Section 34 of the Children Act 1989, to promote contact between children and their parents and relevant others and are subject to legal, inspection and accountability frameworks to protect and safeguard children in their care. However, there is no specific provision for standards for child contact centres and services. There is also no requirement for the oversight of child contact centres and services for self-referred cases outside the court system. In private law cases a judicial protocol has been in place for nearly two decades, guiding courts to refer families to child contact centres and services that are members of NACCC and so subject to the agreed national standards and an accreditation process.

This raises concerns around safeguarding and the quality and consistency of standards, which impact the outcome of services to children and families. This current framework creates a number of adverse outcomes;

  • There is a postcode lottery of standard in the provision of child contact centres and services, presenting risks around safeguarding and quality of services;
  • there is a lack of agreed standards in the provision of public law child contact even where it overlaps with private law contact for example, in the area of special guardianship;
  • there is no requirement for Child Contact Centres and Services to be subject to quality or safety standards through a process of accreditation.

Child Contact Centres are run by a variety of independent organisations that form the membership of NACCC, along with affiliated members such as family lawyers, Cafcass, Cafcass Cymru and the judiciary.

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There are currently 340 Child Contact Centres which operate at a local level. To view a map of where the NACCC accredited centres are located click the find a centre link below:

Find a centre here

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Child contact centres and services benefit a wide range of children and families. While we hold robust statistics on the number of children and families we work with, we know less about the types of children and families we support. In line with our values of continual improvement to our services and the quality of child contact across the UK, we are reviewing our data collection and statistical output, with a view to develop a more granular statistical base, to evidence the impact of our work and the communities we support and to inform thinking and improvements to service delivery.

This may include collecting data on the ethnicity of communities we work with and understanding the issues families and children engaging in supervised and supported contact are facing, such a domestic abuse, mental health, drug and alcohol use, socio-economic factors, quality of parenting and parental conflict and the number of family transitions children experience and family stability. The objective is to developed a greater understanding of the children and families we work with and to inform how we can better tailor our services to improve the quality and impact of Child Contact Centres and Services.

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More than a million children have no contact whatsoever with one or other parent after separation. Unfortunately, some children experience behavioural issues including antisocial behaviour, distress, unhappiness, and both physical and emotional problems. NACCC is the only charity in the UK dedicated to solving this problem, by providing safe spaces where children can meet the parents they don’t live with.

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