What is a child contact centre?
The Starting Point Centre Childrens Contact Centre offers a safe, friendly and neutral space where children of separated families can spend time with their absent parent, and sometimes other family members.
Our centre is a child friendly environment, away from high conflict situations, that provides toys, games and facilities that reflect the diverse needs of children affected by family breakdown.
Why use a contact centre?
At the Starting Point Centre we appreciate that separation can be a really difficult time and that some parents struggle to communicate, agree arrangements, see each other, and share their children with their ex-partner or extended family.
A relationship breakdown between you and your partner, however, should not affect the bond your child shares with you both, and the importance that you have in their life. Breaking such a bond can have a devastating effect on your child’s happiness and their ability to reach their potential as they grow and develop.
What are the different types of contact?
The Starting Point Centre offers several different types of contacts to meet your child’s needs.
Supported Contact, is facilitated by contact centre staff who will support children and their non resident parent/family to meet, spend time together and encourage a healthy and meaningful relationship. Supported contact is suitable for families where there is no risk to the child or those around the child.
Staff are available to assist, but there is no close observation, monitoring or evaluation of conversations or interactions.
Supported Contact is viewed as a temporary arrangement and is reviewed after an agreed period. It is hoped that families can then move on and make their own arrangements in the best interest of their child.
Supervised Contact is offered when a not absent but non resident parent/family is identified as posing a risk to your child or those around them. Supervised contact will ensure your child is always physically and emotionally safe.
Supervised contact is rigorously staffed, monitored and evaluated.
Supervised contact takes place in a private space where only your child/ex partner/family are present. Your child will be accompanied at all times throughout their contact.
Are The Starting Point Centre staff neutral?
The Starting Point Centre are independent of the Courts, Social Care and Cafcass. Our staff are neutral and are trained to concentrate on your child rather than any ongoing disputes between you and your ex-partner or other family members.
Will I need to see my ex-partner?
Not if you do not wish to, if it is not safe to do so, or if you believe the meeting will impact negatively on your child.
Staff will facilitate a handover at staggered intervals to ensure that parents do not have to meet.
How will you know about my child needs?
All contact will be subject of a risk assessment undertaken by our Referral Coordinator, in consultation with your social worker, solicitor, mediator or family court advisor. There will also be opportunity for you to meet with us before contact starts.
Before contact is agreed, we will have an excellent understanding of your family, the problems you have all experienced, and more specifically, of your child’s needs.
Are there rules at The Starting Point Centre?
Our first and foremost priority is to keep your child safe, so yes, we have rules. Our rules, expectations, terms and conditions will be discussed with you the Pre-Contact Visit.
Will you write a report on us?
If supported contact is offered we will not provide a report, other than a record of attendence. However a report will be produced during supervised contact and shared with relevant parties.
In order to keep attendance at the centre to a minimum, getting to know you, your circumstances and your child, discussion will take place digitally.
However once contact begins we will ensure that everyone attending The Starting Point Centre is safe from the risk of infection.
Our policy regarding this will be made available to you during the Pre-Contact Visit.
How do I access your service?
Most referrals are made through the court, Cafcass, solicitors and mediators. However, self referral and referral through the National Association of Childrens Centres (NACCC) is also possible.
How long does the referral process take?
It depends. The length of the referral process depends on parental cooperation, the judicial process, and availability of our sessions.
Is there a cost attached to contact?
Yes, prices are available within our pricing section.
Where is The Starting Point Centre based?
We are based in Chapel Allerton, North Leeds, Leeds 7.
Child Contact - Jargon Buster
Key terms used at child contact centres
Contact: Time spent between the child/young person and their non resident parent/family member. This should always be in the interests of the child.
Resident parent: The parent with whom the child lives.
Non-resident parent: The parent who lives separately from their child.
Family mediation: Mediation helps separated parents communicate with each other about matters such as contact arrangements, finance etc. It is a more amicable model than using solicitors.
Pre Contact Visit: Mandatory preparation for contact visit held at the centre. This will cover the ground rules and expected conduct at the centre. Parents will be asked to sign a pre-visit agreement.