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4.10.2 The Family Contact Service - Supervised Contact

Please see relevant section of Forms Library to access the required template.

AMENDMENT

Section 2.1, The Contact Session was updated in November 2022 to reflect a finding by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman that the supervisor's observations of the contact must be clearly recorded in the child's record and shared with the parents within 3 months of the visit.


Contents

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1. Key Points
2. Procedure for Organising and Managing Supervised Contact
  2.1 The Contact Session
  2.2 Review of Service


1. Key Points

  1. The Family Contact Service undertakes the supervision and observation of contact between children who are the subject of care proceedings and family members. The service will only be provided up until the final hearing
  2. Children will be referred by their Social Worker.
  3. The service can be provided between 7am and 11pm on any day of the week, including weekends. Arrangements can be flexible to take account of the needs of individual children. The contact sessions can take place in a variety of settings, both at a fixed venue convenient to the child's home, or can be activity based.
  4. The Service aims to promote contact as a positive experience for the child/ young person by the provision of an enabling environment, including age appropriate toys, and ensuring his/her basic comfort and safety at all times. The Contact Worker will, in no circumstances, leave the child/young person alone with any person participating in the contact session unless specific authorisation has been given by the child's social worker prior to the session.
  5. The Contact Worker will keep a low profile during the course of the session, and will not seek to intervene in any interaction between participants unless s/he considers that it is necessary to do so to ensure the safety of any person or safeguard property. Contact Workers will not undertake assessments in relation to contact, but will provide the child's Social Worker with feedback after each session.
  6. The service provided will be the subject of a written agreement between family member(s), the social worker, the child's carer, other participant(s), and any other relevant agency. No contact will be arranged before a written agreement has been drawn up
  7. The provision of service will be reviewed as set out in the written agreement, but at least every 3 months. It may also need to be reviewed:
    • Following any significant change in the child's circumstances,
    • If there are serious concerns about the quality of the contact which is taking place.
    • In the event of a significant breach of the supervised contact agreement
    • When additional persons, not identifies in the original agreement, are to attend contact session on a regular basis.

Review meetings will coincide with a Statutory Review or Core Group Meeting whenever possible.

  1. A written record of each supervised contact session will be made by the Contact Worker, using an observation log and/or diary sheets. Copies of all recordings will be sent to the child's social worker and legal services. Diary sheets may be made available to the court.
  2. When supervised contact sessions are to be used for the purpose of assessing the quality of contact/contact issues, the assessment will be undertaken by the child's social worker, or other worker appointed for this purpose. This person will be responsible for drawing up a written agreement in relation to this work, including recording and reporting arrangements, which will form part of, or be attached to, the supervised contact agreement.
  3. No persons other than the individuals identified in the supervised contact agreement, including professionals, will be allowed to attend contact sessions, unless the child's social worker has made an arrangement with the Contact Manager in advance of the session. In these circumstances the individual will asked to provide identification before being admitted to the session.
  4. The Family Contact Service will maintain close liaison with the referring social worker throughout the duration of the service. Child protection concerns will be referred promptly to the Child Care Management Team.


2. Procedure for Organising and Managing Supervised Contact

  1. A referral will be made by the child's social worker to the Contact Manager, by completing the referral form. The Contact Manager will allocate a Contact Worker to the case, who will plan the initial contact and draft a contact agreement.
  2. The Contact Worker will set up an initial planning meeting to discuss and finalise the contact agreement, which will be signed by all parties, and a copy retained by all signatories.
  3. The Contact Worker will send a letter confirming the details of the contact sessions to the participants (including the child, if of sufficient age) and the child's carer(s). An explanatory leaflet will be included with the letter to the participants.
  4. Whenever possible the Contact Worker will meet with the child and family member(s) prior to the first contact session to introduce themselves, and answer any queries they may have about the arrangements for the sessions, and check that they understand the arrangements for making a complaint.

2.1 The Contact Session

  1. The contact session will take place, and be supervised by the Contact Worker, in accordance with the contact agreement.
  2. If a professional person e.g. Children's Guardian needs to attend a contact session, and this has not been negotiated as part of the supervised contact agreement, the social worker will notify the Contact Manager and provide details of the professional concerned and the reasons for attending the contact in advance of the session. The Contact Manger will advise the Contact Worker of these arrangements. The social worker will also alert the child/ young person and the relevant family members, in advance of the session. The Contact Worker will ask the professional to provide proof of identity before admitting them to the session.
  3. Where there is any doubt about the identity of any individual attending for contact the Contact Worker will request proof of identity before admitting the person to the session. No one will be admitted unless they are a party to the contact agreement, or the Contact Worker has been given prior notice by the Contact Manager that the individual may attend the session.
  4. If, during any contact, the Contact Worker considers that the agreement is being breached by any participant, the session will be terminated. The Contact Worker will notify the Contact Manager and the Child's Social Worker as soon as possible. The Social Worker will inform their Senior Practitioner or Team Leader.
  5. An entry will be made on a diary sheet, and/or a supervised contact observation log will be completed for each contact session.
  6. Verbal feedback will be given to the child's Social Worker after each contact session, and a copy of the supervised contact observation log will be forwarded as soon as possible with a copy to legal services.
  7. The supervisor's observations of the contact must be clearly recorded in the child's record and shared with the parents within 3 months of the visit (Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman finding).
  8. Should any serious concerns arise about the contact taking place, the Contact Manager will send a written report detailing the concerns to the child's Social Worker, with a copy to the Senior Practitioner/Team Manager and the Performance Manager.
  9. In the event that a planned contact session is abandoned no further contact session will take place until the Contact Manager has discussed and agreed future arrangements with the child's Social Worker.

3.2 Review of Service

  1. The supervised contact arrangements will be reviewed following the initial planning meeting as set out in the agreement, but at least every 3 months. Whenever possible the review will coincide with other review meetings, e.g. Statutory Review. The outcome of the review will be noted on the appropriate form and a copy sent to all signatories of the original contract.
  2. The Contact Manager and child's Social Worker should discuss and decide whether the supervised contact arrangements need to be reviewed following any significant change in the child's circumstances, or if there are serious concerns about the quality of the contact which is taking place.
  3. The Contact Officer will write a closure report at the end of the agreed period of work. The Contact Manager will agree closure, and arrange for the file to be sent to the relevant Safeguarding Team.

End