Newport Family Centre has until recently been offering supported contact and handovers only and has recently embarked upon offering supervised contact. This assessment is in readiness for them to begin accepting referrals in January 2023. Supported sessions and handovers are well used and there is clearly a need for supervised contact as there is no other provision locally for this service. Newport Family Centre currently runs from The Salvation Army building in Newport and has been there for the last 6 years. The centre is central, with good bus and rail links and is close to shops and places to eat. There is also a local park close by. This makes the centre ideal for supported handovers and community contact which the centre will hope to provide in the future, once they are established.
The building is large and ideal for contact as it is spacious and visibility of parents/carers and their children is good. The building is clearly signposted with a set of steps and a ramp making it accessible to all and convenient to parents/carers with pushchairs. A volunteer is placed at the door to meet and greet and welcome children into the building. The resident parent does not come into the venue unless it is for a pre-visit. The bathrooms are clean and maintained and the disabled access bathroom is equipped with handrails, emergency pull cord and equipment to assist children in using the bathroom, such as a step. There is also a baby change table. The main contact room is large and can host up to 6 families, depending on the number of children. The volunteers ensure that toys and resources are placed around the room which cater for different ages of children. The building will be appropriate to supervised contact once it starts as there is a smaller room which would be more manageable for workers to observe in. There is an excellent range of toys, all of which are cleaned and adhere to safety regulations. There is a kitchen area, but this is not accessible to parents/carers (only volunteers are able to enter the kitchen). There is no outside area.
The client information leaflet and information for referrers has clear service aims and information detailing the referral process, what the centre provides, and the pricing structure. The culture of the local community is reflected throughout the policies, with Welsh copies for those who request it. Interpreters would be available if requested, at the expense of the referring body or parent. The centre currently conducts pre-visits and plans on doing the same for the supervised contact service. Each family has a risk assessment which looks at the risk factors associated with that family and helps the staff to consider if the family is appropriate for accessing the centre. It is currently not planned for contact to take place off-site, unless it is a handover and in this case risk assessments are done but families also understand that the risk is considered but not the responsibility of the contact centre.
Contact plans are in place and signed by both parents. Each parent has their own referral form and risk assessment to ensure that the centre captures what is going on for this family, from both sides. contact plans include rules that are explained and agreed. As part of the agreement with parents a plan is in place for who will drop off the child and who will collect the child at the end of the session. Parents are given information about how to complain, should they be unhappy with the service they receive, they are equally encouraged to give positive feedback. Contact plans also state what happens if sessions are missed. As part of the agreement, things like food and drink for the child is discussed, photo permission, gifts and toileting is also discussed. The centre finds out as much about the child as possible, such as allergies/intolerance and any needs they might have. Parents are informed about the child protection and safeguarding policy the centre has and what process they would take if they had a concern about a child or adult. Parents are informed about the evacuation procedure for the centre. Staggered arrival and departures are carried out in the setting and where possible resident parents do not come into the setting unless necessary.
Reviews for supported contact are done in an informal manner with parents on a regular basis, a short and concise note is kept on the record of the family about the update of the family, including the next step for contact agreements. Where social services are involved (supervised contact) then reviews will be done in conjunction with them, the same applies with Cafcass and the centre takes their lead with reviews from them. Any information they get regarding the future of contact is shared.
It may be that once supervised contact is established, the centre will consider offering supervised contact in the community. At present there are no home visits and no transporting of children.
There is a separate information leaflet for children (including information in Welsh). Children are currently offered pre-visits for supported contact sessions and will also be offered pre-visits for supervised contact – this gives children an opportunity to look at the centre and meet some of the staff that will be there during sessions. Children appear to be catered for, the centre has a large selection of toys and resources which are age appropriate. The room is set up in a way that allows children to be social with each other as well as providing time for them to be with their family member. Feedback forms will be used with children who have attended contact sessions to gain their views. Children are given boundaries and explanations around keeping themselves safe, for example children cannot be in the corridor waiting or during contact sessions – they must stay within the contact room with the family member that is there to see them. If there are concerns with contact, either from a child protection perspective or the wellbeing of the child is at stake than the co-ordinator will intervene and take steps to ensure that the child is safe and happy.
Handovers are treated the same as contact in terms of paperwork and information gathered about the family. Everything is recorded that needs to be. Handovers are only offered if the coordinators feel it is appropriate and safe. When a parent turns up for a handover, they wait in the contact room and then the child is escorted to the non-resident parent from the resident parent. The parents do not have to meet if they choose not to or if there is an order in place which prohibits this. Children and parents are signed into the building and out of the building when they leave for the community. Handovers are reviewed informally with parents to find out their next steps in terms of not having to use the centre.
Currently there are two members of staff sharing the co-ordinator role for Newport Family Centre. The volunteer team have a range of backgrounds and experiences and have been at the centre for some time. Covid19 unfortunately meant that some volunteers did not return after the lockdown. The centre may need to recruit for the role of supervised contact workers. The assessor was able to spend a good amount of time with the two main staff members and from being with them it was clear that they have an excellent relationship and work really well together, they also support each other and use each other if they need to talk through referrals. Staff who currently work at the setting and the volunteers are receiving a good amount of training and there is a plan for more training for sessional workers.
This centre is currently operating as a centre which offers supported contact and handovers only and is preparing to offer supervised contact sessions from January 2023. The purpose of the assessment was to ascertain if the centre has the paperwork, policies and practicalities in place for January 2023 and the assessor was pleased to see that they are ready to start taking referrals and their paperwork is well managed, organised and meets NACCC standards. Policies are well written, and all were composed this year, they will be reviewed annually. Health and safety of the current centre is good, with the Salvation Army taking up most of the responsibility of the premises maintenance. Any recommended actions following the visit are now complete meaning the service meets the standards for enhanced (supervised) accreditation.