The Voice of the Child was registered as a charity in 2010. Its founder and current Director is a qualified Social Worker with a psycho-therapeutic background and initiated the services provided by Voice of the Child. The centre offers supervised and supported contact sessions, they facilitate handovers and family support services where individual support can be provided for children or for parents as well as to the family group. The centre is in Reading, just off the M4 and is located in a business Park with allocated free parking. The centre is on the ground floor and can accommodate families where there are wheelchair users. There are local buses from Reading Station and the bus stops are a 10-minute walk away. There is a large supermarket within 10 minutes’ walk which has a café and local parks are approximately 15-minute walk away.
The centre is open weekends, and available to conduct after school contact sessions mid-week. It has the use of four contact rooms, of which are all of a high standard of decoration and cleanliness along with plenty of natural light. There is a small kitchen, a large office space, reception area and a waiting area. There are toilets available on the ground floor in including baby changing facilities. These are clearly signed and were clean with relevant handwashing, hand towels, hand sanitisers and toilet paper.
At the time of the visit on entry to the centre it stated clearly that all must wear face coverings on entry and when moving about the building. Hand sanitisers could be found throughout and in the session the supervisor was wearing a face covering with clients removing theirs as long as social distancing was adhered to with supervisors.
The centre facilitates private referrals and local authority referrals. There is an excellent variety of equipment for all ages of children to use during their contact sessions. At the time of the visit due to Covid-19 families were encouraged to bring their own toys. The service has a small team of qualified staff, including social workers, a psychologist, and childcare workers. All staff have the relevant qualifications and experience to supervise contact sessions and at the time of the visit all the necessary Covid-19 risk assessments and processes were in place.
The centre has an easy-to-use website where referrers and clients can find out the necessary information about the different services the centre offers. Clients need to call the centre regarding costs for service. All families are clear about charges, opening hours, contact numbers, email address, location of premises, where contact sessions are held along with signed rules for service users. The centre has a map which states clear directions and local transport. During the contact planning meeting families are informed of the processes and services they will be getting and by whom. Only the operational manager is able to use their vehicle for transporting children, which is only in emergencies if the foster carer is unable to collect. The assessor viewed the relevant paperwork and insurances for the vehicle which were in order. The remaining contact workers do not use their own vehicles. Children are either brought to the centre by the foster carer or the parent.
The director has appreciated the team’s hard work in getting the centre to a high standard and implementing changes that have benefitted all who work at the centre as well as the families. Any recommended actions following the visit are now complete meaning the service meets the standards for enhanced (supervised) accreditation.