The NACCC Standards ensure that child contact services are safe and effective places for children to enjoy contact with people that are important in their lives. A full copy of these is not currently publicly available however, this webpage provides a summary of these that we hope will be helpful.
1. Child Contact Service Management
The key to any successful service is one that has a management team that drives to move the organisation forward, learning as it does. Those managing child contact services are expected to be experienced in their field and qualified to undertake the work.
The people managing such a service had a duty to the children using the service, as well as to their family members, staff and all relevant others to ensure that the service effectively understands, reflects and meets the needs of the local community.
1.1. Contact Service Management
A clear, proactive and effective management structure is required for a supervised child contact service to successfully deliver a safe and child-centred contact service. Staff will understand lines of accountability and there will be clear documentation written to support them in delivering an excellent child contact service.
1.2. Contact Service Management – Building(s)
Centre management will take responsibility, in co-ordination with staff for providing a building that is warm, clean, bright and friendly. The building will be safe and legally compliant.
The centre will ensure that the building is well maintained and has the space required to effectively meet the needs of the children and families using the centre.
Centre management will act in accordance with all legislation. Due regard will be given to people with disabilities, taking appropriate steps to ensure that they can independently access as many parts of the building as possible.
All new centres opening will be compliant with equality laws and therefore be fully accessible to those with disabilities.
1.3. Contact Service Management – Alternative Building(s) / Venues
Contact may on occasion take place in venues not associated with a contact centre. An example might be, where a child has additional needs they may be overwhelmed within a busy environment. This might happen in line with child development, or to enrich the contact experience. Such buildings for example, might be rented from other organisations, family homes, or community venues like libraries, nurseries or bowling alleys.
1.4. Contact Service Management – Service Delivery
A clear and constructive management structure is essential to the running of any service to ensure that children are safe and that the service is effective.
1.5. Contact Service Management – Financial
Financial planning is essential for the sustainability of child contact services. Organisations need to be on a sound footing.
Sound financial management will ensure that the needs of children and families are met into the long term and is therefore, well placed to combat some of the insecurity and disruption they have already experienced.
1.6. Contact Service Management – Partnerships and Networking
It is well known that the best way to improve outcomes for children is that we work in a joined up and united way. Working with partner agencies is known to reduce risk for children as well as increasing the sustainability of the arrangements achieved.
NACCC requires its members to demonstrate the highest levels of partnership working in the interests of the children and families that attend their services.
2. Service Staffing
The staffing of child contact services is the biggest asset that any organisation has. A workforce that is well trained and competent will be equipped to deliver excellent services that can create the foundations for positive change in families that has the potential to be long lasting and sustainable.
3. New Services, New Workers and Management
It is inevitable that services will develop over time. Having systems in place to ensure that change is managed in a professional way is the key to the success of such services.
NACCC and its member services have a responsibility to uphold standards and to protect children, service users and centre workers. There must therefore be clear interview, recruitment and employment procedures that ensure the selection of suitable staff for new and existing supervised child contact services.
3.2. Person Specification.
Workers within child contact services who will be undertaking supervision of contact must be able to demonstrate that they have (or are working toward) an appropriate vocational or academic qualification, the minimum requirement being NVQ Level 3 in a health and social care subject with GSCE English and Maths Grade C or above.
3.3. Job Description
The service’s job description should clearly detail the job and the roles that are entailed in offering a service.
3.4. Staff Training
Staff training is crucial to meeting the needs of children and young people. The staff can only provide services that holistically meet the needs of children, young people and their families when they have access to the best quality, up to date information.
Provision must be made for all staff to receive training that is relevant to the service they provide and their individual development needs, and on a regular basis.
3.5. Support and Supervision
Child contact can be a particularly stressful environment to work and certainly should be an environment where learning opportunities are embraced. With this in mind supervision is essential for all working at the centre and a fundamental part of the process of ensuring staff wellbeing and therefore their professional practice.
4. Operating Procedures
It is important for all child contact services to have clear and consistent operating procedures. These procedures need to be known about, understood and accepted by staff, referrers and families using the service.
4.1. Referral Process
A child contact service must be in possession of a properly completed referral form giving full details of both parties and any other people involved in the contact before a family is accepted.
4.2. Risk Assessment
Every child contact service providing supervised contact should have a Risk Assessment policy. This policy should be clear about the needs of risk assessments in child contact centres and how these will be used to protect children and their families.
4.3. Contact Plans / Agreements
Contact plans help a family to understand what a supervised child contact service will do and what will be required from them. They need to be drawn up and agreed with a family in advance of the contact commencing.
4.4. Rules of the Service / Terms and Conditions of Contact.
Each child contact centre must have rules that are clear to understand. This will help families to understand how a child contact centre will keep them safe and what will be expected from them whilst they are using the service. Arrangements should be in place to provide information of this nature to adults and children (where appropriate) prior to them using the service.
4.5. Additional Interventions or programmes of work with families and children.
Child contact centres provide a range of other services, although these might not be specifically under the remit of NACCC Accreditation it remains important that these are delivered to a good quality and do not therefore impact upon the view of this centre or centres more widely.
4.6. Indirect Contact and Handovers
Indirect contact is used where direct contact is either unsafe, unworkable and or not in the child’s best interests. Indirect contact can be in the form of letters, cards, gifts, emails, or through a third party (such as a solicitor or a Cafcass officer).
This form of contact is often used to re-introduce a child to a non-resident parent when they have not seen each other for a long period of time or where there are concerns about domestic violence or child abuse. The child needs to be prepared before the session begins.
4.7. Virtual Contact
Virtual Contact takes place much like any other form of contact and can include Supervised or Supported services. The main difference with Virtual Contact is that this is delivered using technology (including TEAMS, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook live etc). This type of contact works well when children and their parents cannot physically be in the same place. This service may also be used as a steppingstone towards achieving face to face contact.
The aim of this standard is to assist Centres in ensuring that Virtual Contact is delivered in a safe and effective way.
4.8. Recording Contact – Contact Report
All child contact services providing supervised contact must have a procedure whereby the progress a family is making can be reviewed at on a regular basis. Families will know in advance how often reviews will take place and what their involvement will be in this process.
All child contact services providing supervised contact must have a procedure whereby the progress a family is making can be reviewed regularly. Families will know in advance how often reviews will take place and what their involvement will be.
4.10. Court Reports
The centre may be asked to provide reports that are additional to their usual contact observations. Where this is the case, they must ensure that they understand the purpose of these reports and that they are able to write reports that are honest, truthful, and accurate.
Although their structure and content are likely to vary and be determined by the needs of the agencies or individuals requesting them, reports prepared by child contact services providing supervised contact must reflect the records of contact for the family concerned.
The authors of reports should expect to give evidence on information recorded.
4.11. Information for Referrers.
Child contact services providing supervised contact must have and use an Information for Referrers in a written form.
Such information can be in any form as long as it provides basic information about the service. This information enables people to make appropriate referrals to the service.
4.12. Information for Parents
Parents must be provided with written information. This information will help them to understand the basics of a child contact service even before they attend a pre-visit. This information will explain the contact service allowing parents to know what will be expected of them and what they can expect from a service in return.
This information will help them to understand how they will be kept safe and, will let them know what observations will be made.
Parents should be made aware of how they can access policies and procedures, and how and when they can complain if they need too.
4.13. Providing for children
Identifying and meeting the needs of children is a priority for everybody associated with the management and running of a child contact service providing supervised contact.
They must therefore ensure that the service operates in a way that provides information for children to understand in an age-appropriate way.
5. Service Policies
The centre must have a range of policies and procedures that are written with a focus on keeping children and their family members safe whilst they are using child contact centres.
6. Safeguarding Children
Child contact services have a unique opportunity to recognise and identify the risks faced by children. Therefore, they also have significant responsibilities to keep them safe.
The safety of children is paramount. Child contact services will have robust systems in place that ensure children are protected, before during and after using a service.
Every supervised child contact service needs a system in place to ensure children are safe from abuse when they are using the service and that suspicions or allegations of abuse are responded to properly.
Families using child contact services have a right to know that information about them will be treated in accordance with best practice relating to confidentiality. People using services must be able to trust child contact services and the way that their information is kept safe.
8. Complaints and Compliments
Child contact services must recognise that there will be times when people have varying emotions about the services they receive. Depending upon these experiences people might want to formally record compliments or complaints. Every centre must have a clear policy and procedure that outlines how complaints will be managed and what people can expect. It is also important that centres work within this policy, demonstrating best practice in impartiality and a non- judgemental processing of complaints.
9. Health and Safety
Child contact centres must have a clear health and safety policy to keep children and their families safe. This must be kept under constant review.
10. Equal Opportunities and Diversity
Child contact services must be committed to ensuring it affords equal opportunities to all that use the service and be individually tailored to meet the invidiously needs of the children and families using them. Centres must ensure that they provide an environment free from discrimination and that values the diversity of people.
11. Domestic Violence and Abuse
A significant number of families using supervised child contact services have experienced varying levels of domestic violence and abuse. It is therefore important for a service to be run in a way that takes account of this and allows families and staff to be safe.
12. Home Visits, Escorting Children and Transporting Children
Not all child contact takes place in a professional setting. When providing services outside of a centre the organisers must take additional steps to ensure that their service is safe and effective.
13. General Data Protection Regulation
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) is a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU).
The GDPR covers any information that can be classified as personal details or that can be used to determine your identity. Parental consent will be required to process any data relating to children ages 16 and under.