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Supervised contact

Supervised contact is when a child spends time with someone close to them who they do not live with (usually a parent or other family member). It may be overseen by a professional or family member. Contact may be supervised to make sure that the child is safe, and the contact is in their best interests.

There are many reasons why social workers might think contact should be supervised. For example, if a parent has problems with drug or alcohol misuse, a social worker may be concerned about their ability to safely care for a child without support. The social worker or court has to make sure the person having contact does not do anything that might harm or upset the child.

Supervised contact usually takes place in a neutral venue, such as a contact centre. It can also take place in the community. For example the parent, child and contact supervisor might go to the park or out for a meal. It can also take place in a relative or foster carer’s home. The person having contact will be told in advance how long the contact session will take place for.

The person supervising contact often makes notes about what happens during contact. These written observations are often used to inform social work planning, and can be used as evidence in court.

Supervised contact is not the same as ‘supported contact’. Unlike supervised contact, supported contact does not involve close monitoring of the interactions between parent and child.

Supported contact is usually used for separated families when there is some acrimony between the parents, but there is no specific risk to the child.

Supported contact is usually provided by a local charity or volunteers. They will oversee lots of different families having contact, or just help with a handover, so that parents do not need to come into contact with one another.

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