Pontllanfraith Children’s Contact Centre provides supported contact in Pontllanfraith – a large village and community located in the Sirhowy Valley in Caerphilly, Wales. The centre is situated within a room at the Sacred Heart Church and has been run by the same coordinator since opening in 2008. The centre benefits from nearby parking and a bus stop is available opposite the centre. Blackwood town centre is nearby hosting shops, places to eat, a soft play centre and parks.
The visit was carried out remotely via video call.
There is one room used for contact which is set up with toys of varying ages and stages. The room is set up according to how many families are accessing the centre that week. There are toys and resources available for children, available at their choosing. Before Covid the centre used the kitchen area as a waiting space for parents, however this does not happen now and there is no waiting area. There is no outside area for this centre. The centre operates staggered arrival and departure times and can offer a different exit/entrance if necessary.
Referrals come via solicitors, social services, Cafcass and parents can also self-refer. At the time of the report there is a one-off referral fee of £50, however this can be waived if parents are experiencing financial hardship. Referrals come into the centre via telephone call and the co-ordinator then deals with the referral paperwork. Pre-visits are arranged with both parents and the pre-visit check is completed. At the pre-visit the co-ordinator will discuss terms of using the centre and agree with parents the rules around contact sessions. Information is given regarding how the contact sessions run, dates and times that families can attend, mobile phone usage whilst in the centre and safety around taking photos. Risk assessments are kept up to date and any changes are recorded. The co-ordinator ensures that reviews are carried out with all families accessing the centre. If there is Cafcass involvement, then the reviews are done every 6 sessions in conjunction with the Cafcass officer. If there is no other professional involvement the co-ordinator will talk to the families about their next steps and possibly moving to supported handovers.
The co-ordinator is a supervised contact worker for the local authority and is aware of the risks which can present when working with vulnerable and potentially challenging families and will signpost parents to the nearby supervised centre in Pontypridd if necessary. They work closely with the centre’s team leader regarding the referred families coming to the centre.
The co-ordinator came across as passionate and knowledgeable about their role and it is helpful that they work within the local authority as a supervised contact worker. Although the assessor was unable to visit the centre in person they are satisfied that the health and safety standards are being met and provision is good for parents and children. The co-ordinator appears to work well with other professionals and agencies involved with families accessing the centre. Paperwork for families is kept in order and all the relevant information is gained – files are kept securely and safely. Training is delivered and recruitment processes are robust. Policies are in place and reviewed annually. Safeguarding is talked about and children are kept at the heart of the service. Evaluations are gathered and reviews are carried out. The centre meets the standards for supported contact reaccreditation.