It depends if your family is involved with Cafcass or social services or if you have a support worker or similar person assisting your family. If these agencies are involved, then it is likely they will decide which type of contact service is best for your family. If you do not have these agencies involved, then it will be up to you as family members to decide what is appropriate for your situation depending on your circumstances and what has happened.
As a rule, supported centres work with families that do not require direct supervision. This means that staff will not be within sight and sound of children at all times. They will not be making observations or recordings. A supported centre works with families where the level of risk is low and there is a clear plan for the family to be able to move on to more suitable arrangements. At a supported centre it is generally expected that parents will take full responsibility for the child during the session. Supported centre would typically take place within a contact centre where other families might also be present. Contact often progresses to handover sessions prior to families moving on from the service.
Supervised contact is generally used for higher risk families. It might be the case that staff need to be within sight and sound of the child at all times to ensure the safety and well-being of the child. In a supervised session the staff will be within sight and sound of the child at all times. They will be better placed to undertake basic care tasks, to teach parents to do this, or to assess parenting capacity. Supervised contact can be within a contact centre or other building. It is often also possible for families to have contact in community locations, once the contact service is satisfied that this is safe. Typical progression from a supervised centre would be to supported contact although it is also possible to progress to handovers.
NACCC have the following table that can be used as a guide when considering whether to approach a supported or supervised contact centre, although it is also worth discussing this with your local centre co-ordinator who be able to advise further.
|No:||Reason for Referral||Supervised Contact||Supported Contact|
|1||Actual evidence or strong suspicion of Child abuse:||In exceptional circumstances centres would collaborate with LA or Cafcass to help bring about a process of change in a family, eg to provide identity contact |
Self-referrals – not accepted
|2||Allegations of any abuse: Physical / emotional but no clear evidence||In collaboration with LA or Cafcass as part of ongoing assessment or plan. Self referral – case by case decisions||Possibly, subject to risk assessment|
|3||Allegations of sexual abuse:||Yes if safety plan can be agreed with resident parent and risk can be managed, or whilst investigations continue||Not whilst investigations ongoing. If no proof or ongoing concern – yes|
|4||Actual abduction||Yes if safety plan can be agreed with resident parent and risk can be managed||No|
|5||Fear of abduction but no real evidence||Yes if safety plan can be agreed with resident parent and risk can be managed||Possibly subject to risk assessment and safety plan|
|6||Serious long term mental illness||Yes if can be managed as part of a package with MH Services||No|
|7||History of mental illness but now appears stable||Yes if can be managed as part of a package with MH Services||Possibly. Depends on information available to assess situation re risks to child/other parent/centre staff and volunteers|
|8||Drug or alcohol problems. Either current or very recent past||Yes as long as the person can abide by ground rules re; presenting as not under the influence||Possibly. Depends on level of problem. Also service user will need to be engaging with other agencies|
|9||History of drug or alcohol abuse but currently stable||Yes as long as the person can abide by ground rules re; presenting as not under the influence||Yes. If relapse occurs may need to be referred to supervised contact|
|10||Proven domestic violence/abuse||Need to be part of a package i.e: activity direction for DVP Programme and following positive midway review.||No unless the centre has suitable qualified staff to carry out a risk assessment and where the perpetrator has demonstrated a willingness to address their anger management issues through the relevant courses.|
|11||Allegations of domestic abuse: Pending finding of fact||CAFCASS & Self referral – await outcome of finding of fact before referral considered.||Not whilst investigations ongoing|