When do I use a children’s contact service?

You can use Stepping Stones Supervision voluntarily or because you have been ordered by a court to use the Service. The court can order that the handover of a child or children, or the time children spend with a parent or another family member, be supervised.

Who can go to a children’s contact service?

Separated families can be helped by Stepping Stones Supervision. You can use a Children’s Contact Service whether or not you have ever married or lived with your child’s other parent.

What happens during supervised contact?

The visits should be a happy time for the child. Stepping Stones Supervision has a range of toys and activities for children and parents to use. Stepping Stones Supervision will observe the interaction between a child/children and the parent at all times.

Courts and children’s contact services:

If you decide to go to court for a decision about your child/children, the court may order you to participate in supervised changeovers, or for the time that a parent or other family member spends with a child to be supervised at Stepping Stones Supervision. You may go back to court if the court order expires, if Stepping Stones Supervision is unable to continue to provide its services, or if the Service recommends a variation of the order in writing to you and the other parent. If you and the other parent agree in writing to new arrangements for spending time with your child, you may need to return to court for consent orders to e made. The court will only make a consent order if it is in the child’s best interests to do so.

Will the supervision be neutral?

Stepping Stones Supervision workers do not take sides. Their focus is on the child/children and not on the dispute that parents or other family members may have.

Is what I say to a children’s contact service confidential?

No, anything said or done at Stepping Stones Supervision can be reported as evidence to any court. Stepping Stones Supervision may provide reports about what the workers have observed during a supervised visit or changeover to you, the court, your solicitor or the independent lawyer appointed to represent your child/children.

Will my child be safe?

If you are concerned about your child/children’s safety during the visits, discuss this with the supervisor before the first visit.

What if you are feeling unsafe?

Stepping Stones Supervision have arrangements in place to protect the safety of clients and staff. If you have concerns about your safety or the safety of your child/children, you should let the Service staff know as soon as possible.

How long is it necessary for the time a parent spends with their child/children to be supervised?

Often the relationship between the parent and the child improves so that supervision is no longer needed. Sometimes supervision continues for an extended period. If supervised visits or changeovers have been ordered by the court, these continue until the court decides otherwise.

What should I tell my child/children about supervised contact?

Talk to your child/children in plain simple words. Tell them where they will be meeting or spending time with their other parent or family member. Describe it as a safe and friendly place. Take them to Stepping Stones Supervision for a visit before supervised visits or changeovers start. Make sure the child/children know who they are going to see and for how long and who will be picking them up after the visit to take them home.

What information will a children’s contact service provide me with?

A Stepping Stones Supervision Supervisor will explain the safety rules for using the Service and can tell you about other services available to help you.

What is a supervised changeover?

In separated families there are times when a child or children need to be ‘handed over’ and ‘handed back’ to the parent or other family member who does not have the day-to-day care of them. In cases where either parent is not comfortable with meeting face-to-face, a Stepping Stones Supervision Supervisor will facilitate or supervise the changeover.

What is a supervised visit?

When a child or children needs to have a safe, controlled situation in which to spend time with their other parent or a family member, the visit can be supervised by a Stepping Stones Supervision Supervisor.

What is a children’s contact service?

Stepping Stones Supervision help children from separated families to establish or maintain a relationship with the parent they do not live with. When families separate and the transfer of a child or children from one parent to another is a problem Stepping Stones Supervision provides a neutral venue for safe visits and changeovers.

Where necessary, or as directed by a court order, the Service can supervise the time a child or children spend with a parent or other family members. Sometimes this is because of allegations of violence. Sometimes it is because a child or children are being reintroduced to a parent or family member when they have spent little or no time together.