What we've learnt in one year of child contact

The Starting Point Centre has been supporting families across Leeds for over a year now. Since our opening, we’ve celebrated our first birthday, hosted networking events and, most importantly, learnt a lot about the practicalities of child contact.

Here are some of the things we’ve discovered so far.

Every situation is unique

There’s no one-size-fits-all model for child contact. We’ve seen so many different types of family dynamics, from single parents to unmarried couples and grandparents taking on the role of caregiver. That’s why it’s so important to treat everyone on a case-by-case basis, getting to understand the needs of each family we meet.

Family is at the heart of everything we do, which is why we always remain neutral to any ongoing conflicts. We’ve begun to offer various types of child contact, allowing us to provide adaptable and versatile services to suit everyone’s needs.

Family comes first

We didn’t think it was possible to have too much entertainment at the Starting Point Centre, but we quickly discovered that children were spending more time choosing toys than interacting with their parent or grandparent. Although it’s important for our rooms to be child-friendly, it’s equally important not to overwhelm children with too much choice.

We decided to let each child pick a few toys to bring into the room with them, so they would have something to play with but still be focused on meeting their family member. This has proven to be a much better approach for everyone involved.

Collaboration is key

Given that family law is a huge part of what we do, we understand the importance of working collaboratively with related professionals. The process of child contact should be as straightforward and streamlined as possible, which is why we offer referrals.

Legal professionals want to know that children can access meaningful contact in a safe and welcoming environment surrounded by qualified staff. Working with professionals that you can trust makes all the difference, and we’re here to facilitate this.

We’ve hosted family law networking events in order to build a stronger professional network, and we hope to work together with more social workers, solicitors and judges in the future.

Contact centres are vital

As a vital resource for the community, child contact centres play an essential role in developing and maintaining family relationships. The Starting Point Centre was founded out of a need for more child-friendly and nurturing environments where this could happen. We wanted child contact to feel as natural and easy as possible.

Since opening our doors to the public, we’ve seen so many important family connections being rebuilt. Non-resident parents who wouldn’t usually have the chance to see their child have been able to create happy memories together, and grandparents from separated families have been able to watch their grandchild grow and develop.

Relationship breakdowns shouldn’t have a negative impact on a child. We’re here to prioritise their safety and wellbeing, whilst nourishing the most important connections in their life. Family always comes first at Starting Point.

To keep up to date with our journey as a child contact centre, follow our founder and director on LinkedIn.