TQ1 has been running as a family contact service since receiving their first accreditation in 2017. The centre is based in Torbay which is located within the coastal region of Torquay with bus and rail links. Torbay is beyond the motorway network and is primarily served by the A38 and A380 roads from Exeter to Paignton. Currently TQ1 has no fixed address and is operating as a community contact service – the assessor has included photos of the play café which is one venue that TQ1 uses for community contact.
The venues that are used for contact sessions vary, from open spaces such as the beach to community venues such as soft play and cafes. There are risk assessments for each venue and all sites are assessed for suitability and appropriateness in terms of catering for the child and parent and safety. If it is felt that the risk posed from a family is too high for community contact in an open space, then it may be considered suitable for the soft play café. The soft play café is a community venue used by many different people at one time – it is used frequently by TQ1, and is aware of the work that TQ1 does which adds to the suitability of the venue.
Families or professionals wishing to refer to TQ1 are required to contact the Director of the business and request an application form which is emailed out (a referral form is completed for the resident and non-resident parent). At this point a non-refundable deposit is taken from the referring party to cover admin costs. Information about the last contact between child and non-resident is also taken, also any court involvement, safeguarding issues, health and or medical information. A pre-visit/discussion is completed prior to any contact sessions, and these are recorded using the pre-visit checklist. Information at this point is collected pertaining to risks and agreements between parties. Where there are court orders or proceedings, information is collected and copies of agreements are obtained. The nature of work delivered corresponds with the referral application and need.
Contact plans contain information about the contact sessions and the agreed can and can’t dos for the non-resident parent, such as photo/video permission, gifts, food and drink specifications. Any information about the individual child is also recorded as part of this agreement, such as medical information and or allergies / intolerances / preferences / religious requirements. Terms and conditions of using the service are discussed and rules are made clear. Where the contact is supervised with notes/observations, then this is discussed with the parents so that they understand the format of the contact sessions. The service also offers life story work and parenting assessments, indirect contact and handovers. If a translator is required, then this would be provided at the cost of the referring body or the parent. Where facilities are needed for people with a disability then the contact venue will be considered, and measures put in place to ensure equal access.
Pre-visits are carried out and children’s needs and wishes are taken into consideration. At the pre-visit there are conversations about the last time the child saw their non-resident parent, how they might be feeling and what they might like to do during their contact session with their parent. Any toys that are accessed by children are those that are brought to by the non-resident parent or that belong to the child.
Staggered arrival and departure times can be used. Different entrances/exits are a little harder to provide due to the community contact aspect of their work. However, when assessing these community venues the Director is mindful that some parents cannot meet for safety reasons and ensures that this is factored into the contact agreement.
The service is run by the Director who oversees all aspects of the service. The Director works under a committee and with one other worker – they either work together or alone with the other person on hand in case of problems.
Covid19 has impacted the centre significantly, but the service is now able to offer community contact at the beach, the park, within the local play café and other community venues. There are appropriate risk assessments in place for community contact, policies are in place and procedures are relevant and evident. There are family case files which are structured and organised containing relevant information for safe contact. The assessor hopes that community contact proves successful and that the centre continues to thrive. Any recommended actions following the visit are now complete meaning the service meets the standards for enhanced (supervised) accreditation.