Forms, Policies & Guidelines

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Consent Form

Knock / Newtownards / Bangor Child Contact Centres provides a neutral meeting place where children of separated families can enjoy contact with one or both parents, and sometimes other family members, in a comfortable and safe environment when there is no viable alternative.

 

The centre is available to parents and children on the following terms, which are intended to ensure that contact, is a safe and positive experience.

 

In applying to use the centre I understand that:

 

  1. The centre does not play a role in the court process. The Contact Centre is independent of the Court system.  As such, Centres are not obliged to, and will not accept referrals, whether ordered or not, where such referrals do not meet the regulations of the centre, either by unwillingness of potential users to comply with the rules of the centre, or where users fail to meet our risk assessment threshold for using the centre.

Use of the Centre depends on successful completion of the referral process and pre-visit assessment as well as compliance with the rules and operating guidelines of the centre, of which the centre Co-ordinator will be the sole judge.

 

  1. The Centre does not provide written reports other than to provide details of dates and times of attendance. Nor will the centre provide any emails / texts, or other correspondences for submission to the court or to any other person, except in relation to child protection issues or criminal law matters which arise during contact visits. In this instance the parents will be fully informed of the centres intention to submit a written report.

 

  1. The Centre can, if requested, report dates and times of attendance & who attended for contact.  A period of 14 days’ notice is required for a dates and times report.

 

  1. If a CCO is allocated to my case by the court, the CCO may at times contact the centre for an update to clarify if there have been any issues of concern. In such cases the Coordinator will communicate this update verbally. If issues are present during contact, a CCO or other Court-appointed Social Worker can carry out an observed visit in the Centre and report back to the court. On this occasion the centre will be used as a hosting venue only and will play no part in the CCO’s or other Social Worker’s assessment.

 

  1. The Centre operates a zero tolerance policy regards inappropriate behaviour / language. Persons using the Centre are asked not to cause any disturbance or upset to their own children or others using the centre.  This includes the use of aggressive / intimidating behaviours or inappropriate language. If service users behave in a way considered by the Centre Coordinator to be unacceptable they may be asked to leave and their use of the Centre will be reviewed.  Use of the centre may be suspended or revoked, at the Co-ordinator’s discretion.

 

  1. Adults should be on time at the beginning and end of each session to avoid upsetting the children and where required, to comply with any order that is in place. If staggered times of arrival/departure are agreed, they must be adhered to.

If anyone is unable to attend, they should contact the Coordinator as soon as possible and if appropriate, also inform all parties e.g. solicitor and/or social worker.

 

  1. Child Contact Centres provide Supported contact as distinct from Supervised By distinction, supported contact is suitable where no potential significant risk exists to the child, other users of the centre or staff/volunteers.  Staff and volunteers are available for assistance, not supervision. No individual or close observation, monitoring or evaluation of contact or conversations takes place, other than to ensure that the environment is safe and suitable for the child.

 

  1. The welfare of the children is paramount and as a result there may be times when the Centre Co-ordinator deems that contact cannot take place if the child is too upset, even if a court order permitting contact exists.

 

  1. The Centre under no circumstances permits verbal or audio recordings to be made of staff or service users in line with our use of media policy. If recordings are made, this will result in immediate suspension from the use of the Centre.

 

  1. If you change contact details i.e. address, telephone number, please ensure that we are kept fully informed. This includes informing the centre in a timely fashion of any changes to contact agreements following court reviews.

 

  1. It has been explained to me that my contact with the Centre is confidential unless issues arise relating to child protection or criminal law. In such instances, by law this cannot remain confidential.

 

  1. Contact Centre Staff and volunteers are not there to offer any advice regarding legal, financial, child care or counselling matters, but we can signpost where appropriate.

 

  1. The use of the Contact Centre is not a long term solution to problems with contact and use of the Contact Centre will be reviewed after 6-8 sessions and thereafter as necessary.

 

Centres will not accept final orders unless specifically agreed in advance with the individual centre and where a maximum time limit is provided.  Individual Centres can reject final orders where these orders have no set time limits for the duration of the contact.

 

  1. If anyone arrives for contact at the Centre under the influence of alcohol or drugs they will be asked to leave and that contact cannot continue. NO alcohol or drugs are permitted on the premises.

 

  1. Arrangements for bringing the children to and from the centre are the responsibility of the adult they live with. Under no circumstances will the Centre accept unaccompanied children for contact.

 

  1. While at the centre the children must be under the supervision and control of a parent or other agreed person at all times to ensure their safety.

 

  1. The Centre is a no smoking
Guidelines for Referrers

Please note that these Child Contact Centres offer supported contact only. Supported contact takes place in a variety of neutral community venues where there are facilities to enable children to develop and maintain positive relationships with non-resident parents and other family members. Supported Child Contact Centres are suitable for families when no significant risk to the child or those around the child has been identified.

 

The basic elements of supported contact are:

 

  • Impartiality
  • Staff and volunteers are available for assistance but there is no close observation, monitoring or evaluation of individual contacts/ conversations
  • Several families are usually together in one or a number of rooms
  • Encouragement for families to develop mutual trust and consider more satisfactory family venues
  • Apart from attendance dates and times, no detailed report will be made to a referrer, Social Worker, Court Welfare Officer, a party’s solicitor or Court, unless there is a risk of harm to the child, parent or Centre worker
  • An acknowledgement that use of the Centre is viewed as a temporary arrangement to be reviewed after an agreed period of time.

 

 

 

 

  1. Please do not refer a client without contacting the Child Contact Centre Coordinator first to check availability of space and time. Contact will not be permitted to begin without an appropriate completed referral form.

 

  1. A referral form should be received by the Centre Coordinator two weeks in advance of the date which your client would like contact to commence, as pre-visit appointments must be attended prior to contact. Agreements made at these pre-visits must be adhered to.

 

NB A limited waiting list will operate when the Centre is full.  At these times the coordinator will advise as to the likely delay in the referral process.

 

  1. Only people named in the referral will be allowed admittance to the Child Contact Centre. This may be varied by agreement by both parties, in conjunction with the Centre.

 

  1. Resident or contact adult(s) are responsible for their children at all times whilst they are at the Child Contact Centre. Under no circumstances will the Centre accept unaccompanied children for contact.

 

  1. Please ensure that resident and contact adults have read and understood the Child Contact Centre’s information leaflet / consent form in advance of contact starting.

 

  1. Knock/Bangor/Newtownards Child Contact Centres are accredited members of the NI Network of Child Contact Centres (NINCCC) which is a registered charity. The Centres operate under its guidelines and in accordance with them has the following policies – AccessNI Disclosure Information, Secure storage, use and disposal of disclosure information, Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy and Guidelines, Complaints, Confidentiality, Domestic Violence and Conflict Management, Equal Opportunities and Diversity, Health & Safety, Pandemic Flu, Recruitment of Ex-offenders, Volunteer Policy and Vulnerable Adults Policy – copies of which are available upon request.

 

  1. To try and maintain a friendly, impartial and confidential environment, we would request that you do not at any time ask to see your clients on our premises without prior agreement with the Centre Coordinator.

 

  1. Only dates and times of a family’s attendance, and who attended Contact, will be disclosed unless it is felt that anyone using the Centre or a volunteer or member of staff is at risk of harm.

 

  1. Child Contact Centres providing supported contact will not knowingly accept a referral when somebody involved has been convicted of any offence relating to a) physical or b) sexual abuse of any child, unless there are exceptional circumstances and they have sought appropriate professional advice.

 

  1. The Child Contact Centre reserves the right to terminate contact, should any information come to light regarding criminal convictions, investigations or any history of violence which was not disclosed at referral. The Centre should be advised of all such information, including addictions / mental health difficulties at the referral stage to enable the coordinator to make an appropriate risk assessment.

 

  1. The Child Contact Centre reserves the right to reduce or terminate contact in the Centre if it is felt to be in the best interest of the child.

 

  1. Parents should be informed that because the welfare of the child is paramount, there might be times when contact cannot take place if the child is too upset even if there is a contact order.

 

  1. Referrers should make arrangements for the provision of an interpreter where English is not the first language of the family involved and problems may arise with communication.

 

  1. The Centre should be viewed as a temporary facility to help establish contact. The Child Contact Centre may ask for your assistance to review the family’s progress after an agreed period.

 

  1. Please notify the Child Contact Centre Coordinator if the arrangements or agreements for contact are going to change or if contact at the Centre is going to cease.
Photography Policy

Purpose

 

The purpose of this document is to outline the practice of Knock Child Contact Centres (covering Knock, Bangor and Newtownards centres) in regard to the taking of photographs and audio / video recordings.  This will offer protection to all users of the centre as well as the coordinator and volunteers.

 

With the increasing use of smart phones and other such portable devices there is a need to have a clearly understood policy in regard to the taking of photographs, recordings, use of calls / video calls. This includes the position of the centre regards postings on Social Media.

 

Outline

 

The taking of photographs is normally permitted unless a Court Order prohibiting the same has been issued. In acknowledging that our default position is to facilitate the taking of photographs, we will require that in addition both resident and non-resident parents/guardians of children sign the agreement attached, prior to contact commencing.

 

In signing this agreement both parties agree to comply with the policy and procedures of KCCC outlined in this document in regard to the taking of photographs and the use of recording equipment.

 

 

Photographs 

 

The taking of photographs, where permitted, can be facilitated by the centre coordinator and volunteers on request. To ensure that children and other users of the centre are protected the taking of photographs and their setting will be agreed with the coordinator or volunteer present.

 

Photographs are not permitted to be taken with other children or users of the centre in the background.

 

The coordinator or volunteer may ask to see the photograph to ensure that it complies with these requirements.

 

There is a goodwill agreement that any such photographs will not be used in Social Media postings.  If an issue is reported / evidenced that photographs have indeed been posted online, this is to be clarified via both solicitors, and the centre informed of the resolution.  Should this be a significant or repeated issue, the centre will review use of the centre and withhold the right to suspend or terminate contact if deemed appropriate to do so.

 

 

Recording

 

For the protection of children and other users of the centre, as well as the coordinator and volunteers, it is not permitted to make any recordings, either video or audio. Phone calls / video calls are not permitted.  Any such practice will result in contact being suspended indefinitely.  The centre will review use of the centre and terminate contact if deemed appropriate to do so.

 

 

Exceptions

 

Where a signed agreement exists between the parties the above practice will be implemented and will continue until;

 

  1. the policy is contravened or
  2. a Court Order is received instructing that the taking of photographs should not continue
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