A contact centre is a safe place for children to spend time with people that they care about that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.
Before contact starts the centre will invite you to have a look round, meet the staff and see the centre. We call this a ‘pre-visit’. If your child lives with you then they will be invited to come at the same time in order that the centre can become more familiar and safer to them. This visit is a good chance for you all to find out about how the centre will work with your family but it is also really important that you are able to share about your situation so that the centre staff can make sure that their service is going to be right for your situation. If there are aspects of your situation that you would prefer to discuss without your child overhearing then it might be advisable for another adult to accompany you so that they can stay with your child while you discuss your situation with the co-ordinator. The person who your child will be seeing at the centre will have their own separate visit. (See our other questions about what happens at a pre-visit for more detail)
As long as the pre-visits go well and the centre is still happy to accept your application you will be invited to bring your child or children for their first contact session. A contact session is where your ex-partner and your child can spend time together, do an activity or play a game.
The centre staff will check all your details off on the register and it may be that you will be shown to a waiting room or separate area whilst they wait for your ex-partner to arrive and be shown into the contact room. If you do not wish to see your ex-partner at the centre then a member of staff can help bring your child or children to the contact room.
Because centres are all different it might be best to ask them about how they will support you and what will be happening there.