At Pro-Contact, CANW we have learnt the importance of indirect contact (staying in touch) between parents and children following family separation. Often indirect contact is used as a means to reintroduce children to their parent after a gap in contact. Indirect contact can be used successfully at pre-visits as well as formal sessions with children to prepare them for contact.
As part of this service [which is checked as part of NACCC’s enhanced accreditation for supervised contact] we ask parents to create interesting and child friendly materials to engage their child and to spark an interest in direct contact. Children who are reluctant to have direct contact are often interested in a short video, photographs of memories and letters. Pro-Contacts also uses other resources, for example parents complete an All About Me booklet with facts about favourite things (films, football etc) and a drawing of a handprint, perfect for younger children to compare their own hand size with. Another well used resource is A day in the life of Dad/Mum whereby the parents document through photographs or writing a typical day and week. Pro-Contact gives parents pro-formas to complete but any contact centre could create their own versions or encourage parents to be creative themselves. These materials can also be used as part of a direct contact session when a child is reluctant to engage straight away.
Pro-Contact’s other form of indirect contact is our post box service. Parents use this to keep in touch with their children when it has been decided that direct contact is not in a child’s best interest. The post box service allows parents to not have each others addresses and allows Pro-Contact to check the content of indirect contact before forwarding it to children.
Pro-Contact has an Indirect Contact Handbook with tips and guidance for parents producing indirect contact for their children. It also has guidance for parents that live with their children, how to support and promote the indirect contact. The handbook also gives guidance on long term indirect contact, social media and childrens development.
Pro-Contact has seen good outcomes for children and parents by using indirect contact and would advocate its use when there are difficulties in direct contact.