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Contact is the term used to describe the ways parents and family members keep in touch with a child who is not living with them.

Contact can mean visits, days out and overnight stays. This is known as direct contact. But contact does not only mean spending time with a child. Contact can also take place through telephone or video calls, letters or emails. This is known as indirect contact.

When a child is in care, children’s services must by law allow ‘reasonable contact’ between parents (or other people with parental responsibility) and the child. This only applies where it is safe for the child to do so. However, children’s services need the court’s permission to stop a parent from having contact their child in care.

Children’s services should support the child to have contact with other members of their family. This includes any brothers and sisters, grandparents and other people who are important to them.

When a child is accommodated (i.e. looked after by children’s services under a voluntary arrangement), the law says children’s services must try to ‘promote’ contact between the child and other people in the family, including the parents, provided it is safe to do so).

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