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Your experiences with child contact centres etc

(9 Posts)
smallmotherbigheart Sun 28-Aug-11 13:52:24

Hi everyone. My ds who's four and I have been attending contact centre sessions since May and have been appalled at some of the occurrences and general attitude towards the parents and children. I have witnessed contact centre staff advising parents to more or less force their children to go in, even when the child runs back out and says they want to go home. Parents are continously told that they must "encourage" the children to go in and if they dont they will be seen as not cooperating and disruptive.

I find this very strange because I thought the children act and so on was supposing to give the child a voice in the matter; one of the cases is particularly bad because the father has a record of actually abusing the older son, yet the CAFCASS officer is continously trying to manipulate her into getting the boy to see his dad. The father has the joined fathers for justice organisation despite his proven acts of violence!!

Yesterday, the parents and I were discussing forming a petition, and I instantly thought that some of the parents on here would like to participate, especially if you have been experiencing similar problems. One of the parents believes she knows someone who can get this up and running so hopefully they stick to it and it gets done.

Also, if you believe that the legal system actually makes things worse in that they often drive a wedge between families for greater financial benefit then please also include your thoughts. If and when the petition takes off I will definitely let you all know.

Anyone is welcome to voice their opinion and please don't start fighting over this!!

Newbabynewmum Sun 28-Aug-11 19:50:40

contact centres are volunteer run arent they, so everyone will have a hugely different experience. the contact centre i use for my 11mo DD is excellent, the volunteers are lovely and kind and have made the whole process a lot easier for me to deal with.

essentially im saying that im not sure about a petition as what would it achieve? as all centres are run by different people then a central petition seems a little pointless imo. i see why you want to pursue change at your particular centre though

smallmotherbigheart Sun 28-Aug-11 21:07:30

Well this is interesting.... have you seen/ experienced what happens when a child doesn't want to go in?


Message withdrawn

angrywoman Mon 29-Aug-11 16:19:15

I'll join. The contact centre we use is staffed by volunteers, which is ridiculous really. They often have no experience and my ex manages to make them believe he's the ideal Daddy. This would not bother me, except that the social worker 'manager' took it upon herself to write to the court at one point just to say how much the children 'adored their father' (an abusive alcoholic) on the strength of the volunteers' feedback.The same woman told me recently that they 'don't keep records'. I know they must in some form because they can be asked for reports by cafcass/ solicitors.
The reason I asked about records is that my children had noted peculiarly frequent toilet visits by their Dad (also a massive head wound) on one visit along with general oddness which upset them all a lot.
I bumped into a volunteer I knew the next week and she told me that the people on duty had thought he was drunk and sneaking off to drink!! They could not search him!I was appauled by this as the reason for C/C in the first place was to protect them from his drunken-ness.
The manager would not confirm this. I just hope it will be confirmed to court as I know he was drunk, a trusted friend saw him later that day. However on the last court appearence he said he'd been at a wedding and had around 60 people who would confirm this!! (bluffing, as he does)
So, on the whole I can see that C/C's have a place, but it needs to be staffed by experienced people and records should be meticulous. And Dads should pay. Either that or sort themselves out!!
Also I agree the legal system has totally done for any future amicability between me and the ex and now also his parents. They chose that path. A sick waste of time. Things could have been resolved in mediation but they would not compromise. Sad. Sorry long post!

cestlavielife Mon 29-Aug-11 22:42:29

the one i used was excellent staffed by professionals but of course teh sessions were £140 a time. volunteer ones may be different - you could write to centr emanager and express you concerns. or to local cafcass which referring people tehre.

i dont understand this:

"they often drive a wedge between families for greater financial benefit" financial benefit to who?

i had no choice but to use court system given my ex's beahviour.
it ahs cost me thousands.
cant see who has got any financia benefit? soliciotr of course but i had little choice...


Message withdrawn

ilovemydogandMrObama Tue 30-Aug-11 09:16:25

What is the point of your petition?

perfectstorm Wed 31-Aug-11 22:13:20

I'm afraid I know of cases where the resident parent has deliberately wound up the toddler in question to sabotage contact, because most contact centres work on a policy that a distressed child is never forced to do anything. I can't say very much because obviously it would be contempt of court if I did, but just as there are abusive NRP who manipulate the system, so there are abusive RP who do exactly the same thing.

Contact centre volunteers are IMO good people doing a difficult job because contact does indeed matter. You will always have parents at either end of the spectrum who make it a miserable experience - but if you want your petition to be fair, you need to ask the CAFCASS officers/solicitors to offer a leaflet to all sides here, including the parents meeting their kids in such centres.

I know people who have spent tens of thousands of pounds just to get to see their own kids, because they don't live in the erstwhile family home so their share is seen as a capital investment, lifting them outside the legal aid threshold. They agreed to contact centres pending full hearings because otherwise they would have had to go months without seeing their kids at all, as there has to be consent from the resident parent. There are terrible stories on all sides, and the problem is, often it's very hard to establish who is lying. Children shouldn't be exposed to violent and abusive parents. But nor should manipulative and selfish ones be able to get away with removing good and loving parents from their children's lives. Both happen.

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