RLC Children and Family Centre was set up in 2016 as a community based not-for-profit charity organisation in Chadwell Heath, East London. The RLC provides a range of children and family focused crisis intervention work including assessments, community outreach, child and family contact services in addition to a pre-school, parenting workshops, and a range of youth and community activities. Chadwell Heath is served by London’s bus services and Chadwell Heath railway station gives easy rail access to Liverpool Street Station in the City of London.
RLC presents as a very well organised building with multiple rooms over two floors each with their own storage space. The resources and equipment are all in good condition both inside and out with children and young people having access to multiple rooms such as music room, sensory room, library, quiet room and playrooms designed for each age group. The rooms are all very child focused, warm, and inviting. The children enjoy the outside space accessing numerous activities in the garden which is well-equipped, and child focused. The building is safe, child friendly and meets expected regulations. It is very child / young person focused with all appropriate safety measures in place such as stair gates and high-level locks. The centre has several toilets (for both adults and children) which are all clean and accessible with numerous baby changing stations and some with disability access.
The website is very user friendly and highlights all services and provision offered at RLC. The centre’s leaflet is clear and there is a leaflet given to children which is also child friendly. The centre is very well displayed with information for families and children via display boards all around the building.
Each referral is carefully screened by senior contact supervisors with careful consideration given on each individual family ensuring they have inductions to the building and services offered. All new clients from the local authority and private referrals are encouraged to attend for inductions and complete all documentation required. The centre rules and roles are explained in length ensuring the families always feel safe and secure. Risk assessments are completed with both parties prior to contact sessions commencing ensuring that it is advised before contact who will be bringing and collecting the child. The staff within RLC can speak 16 different languages and should they require the provision of interpreters will book this service accordingly.
RLC advise that children are enabled to have as many induction sessions as possible they wish to have to ensure their contact will be always in their best interests. Children are spoken to by trained staff at the induction pre-visits. During this visit they are shown around the building and frequently get the choice to use different rooms throughout their contact sessions accessing music rooms, games rooms and garden areas.
Non-resident parents arrive 15 minutes before contact commences and are escorted to the room in which their child has chosen. The allocated contact supervisor will greet the child each session and ensures all is well advising the resident parent of the room that the child will be attending. The child will then attend the room to greet their non-resident parent. The contact supervisor will always remain in the contact room of choice with the child ensuring they document on the contact record. There is ample room for resident parents to remain on site should this be required and there are two separate entrances. Contact is generally held on site, should contact be off site this is risk assessed and all risks identified and managed effectively to ensure that this can be managed before agreed. Families are allocated the same key worker to ensure continuity. If staff are on leave, they are introduced to the member of staff covering and will have opportunity to ensure the new worker is aware of the case. Each contact plan is agreed by all parties and reviews are held regularly to ensure moving on and risks are assessed and managed effectively.
RLC Children and Family Centre is a very well managed and very well-resourced centre. Celebration of children and families is clearly displayed, the centre is currently financially stable and is run by a team who are very qualified and experienced. There are 4 full-time staff, 2 part time and 2 volunteers with an extremely low staff turnover (most staff have been there from 2016). The centre staff appear passionate and determined to ensure best outcomes for children and their families. Due to several years’ experience in children and family work coupled with extensive consultation with practitioners in the field, significant steps have been taken to address the sensitive nature of issues involved in child and family contact work thereby ensuring that the experience for children and estranged parents is as positive, private, and safe as possible. The centre closed for 6 months due to Covid-19 at the start of the pandemic however can be sustainable through all the services it currently offers. RLC is extremely busy with all its services and supports the local authority’s needs for supervised contact. The service meets the requirements for enhanced (supervised contact) reaccreditation.