Foundations: Supporting Families

Registered Charity No. 1150716

Supervised Contact

Children and the contact person spend time together within Foundations. A Contact Supervisor will be present for the duration of contact. Each family has their own room for their contact. We can also undertake contact in the community or your own home. A written report is provided detailing contact and any interventions made.

Monitored Contact

Children and the contact person spend time together within Foundations. A Contact Supervisor will be on hand to offer support where needed. A written report is provided detailing contact and any interventions made.

Unsupervised Contact

Children and the contact person spend time together within Foundations, without support or supervision.

Supported Handover

Children meet with their contact person without Mum and Dad having face to face contact. The contact time is outside of Foundations and may be in the Family Home. Feedback is provided for each contact to help Parents, Local Authority, CAFCASS and the Courts decide how things should move forward.

Referral Process

Foundations is fully accredited by the National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC) and are approved providers for the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). Under the accreditation we are required to undertake the following referral process:

  • Contact Meetings; One with the resident Parent/Carer and Children, and one with the person's requesting contact.

  • Review of contact; These are often completed within the court process.

  • Risk Assessment; To consider any areas of risk or concerns and how these can be reduced.

This process helps parents to feel more at ease about Contact in a Centre and allows Children to get to know their Supervisor and adjust to a new environment.

There is a referral fee which also covers the cost of correspondence. The referral process can take from 2-6 weeks to set up, dependent on how quickly Parents can visit the Centre to meet the Supervisor and agree a Contact Plan. Should you wish to attend Foundations for Contact, please contact the Centre closest to you. Details can be found on the 'Contact Us' page above.

Information for Parents & Carer's

  • Talk to your children about the good times rather than focusing on negatives or making your ex-partner a taboo subject.

  • Talk to your children about the Contact and be positive, the more positive you are, the more positive your Children will be.

  • Tell your children who they will see at the Contact Centre.

  • Encourage your Children to meet and spend time with their Mother or Father and extended Family.

  • Give your Children time to settle into the Centre.

  • As Parents, please try to keep talking to each other about things that affect your Children. If you can not talk face to face, use a Contact Book (these are provided to all Families who use Foundations).

  • Remember that your Children have the right to know and maintain a relationship with both Parents and extended Family.

When a relationship ends trusts also ends and it becomes very difficult to separate feelings from what has happened from peoples motives, we often see a negative motive when emotions are running high. . As adults we know these different feelings and we deal with them although not always rationally and safely. For you children this loss and grief is more difficult to understand and work through. What we know is for children to move forward is very dependent on the help and support that they have from the parents they live with, how many changes there are to their day to day routine and how the parents and extended family members behave. If you can't move forward then it is unlikely that your children will be able to.

Most adults like to think that they act in the best interest of their child, however when emotions are heightened there is a risk that although we believe that we are acting in their best interest that the emotions are clouding our perceptions and whilst we believe we are acting in their best interest, we are not.

We all need support in doing what is best and making decisions about the most vulnerable and loved members of our families particularly children, we have to make decisions on whether to have them vaccinated and consider the risks if we do and the risks if we don't and weigh this up. It is not an easy task.

For some children there will be risks; those who have experienced Mental Health illness of a parent or a parent who is verbally or physically abusive or is addicted to drugs or alcohol. The simplest and logical way to stop this risk is to make sure they do not see the person with the issue or any of their family members, but is it?

You have to remember that your child/ren is part of both of you and whilst you may regret the relationship whether a one off encounter or years of misery or a great few years you have the most wonderful gift from it your child/children. Your child has a right to and needs to get to know that parent if there is a safe way for this to happen. Your role is to ensure that it is safe and for many children whose parent felt that the safest way was to stop them seeing them was mistaken. For many children who have not had the opportunity to get to know there mother/father or other extended family member the risks to them can be far reaching. They are more at risk of truanting school, getting involved in anti social behaviors, getting involved in criminal activities, and later in life developing Mental Health issues, drug and alcohol abuse, have difficulties in their own relationships both with adults and their own children.

Most of the research is from America and other countries and we are conducting our own so please share your views and experiences.

For some children they are cared for by step parents, grandparents, other family members or even foster carer's and adopters, what is true is that they need to have a rounded understanding of their birth relatives and where possible some sort of contact, whether this is via letter or face to face.

Information for Young People and Children

  • It's okay to feel angry or sad and confused, lots of Children and Parents feel like this when things have changed at Home.

  • You may not want to see your mum or dad because they have been mean; and this is natural you need support from all the adults around you to help you work through your feelings;

  • You may be worried about seeing your Mum or Dad, if you are, speak to the Supervisor who is there to help you and make sure that you have a good time

  • Remember the situation is not your fault;

  • You do not have to take sides your mum is mum and your dad is your dad and you love them both, although you may not like them sometimes, particularly when one has hurt the other;

  • It is not up to you to make sure that the adults around you are okay; it is their job to make sure that whatever happens; it is best for you, even if it does not feel like it, like going to the dentist, or sometimes going to school;

  • Some children say they don't want to go to see another parent or family member because they know the upset it causes even when this is not what they really want, others because they are angry; it is best if you do not deny your wishes or work through the anger and you should ask a trusted adult to help you with this, it can be a family member or a teacher or even a counselor;

  • Whilst at Foundations the Supervisor will be with you at all times to make sure that everything is okay.

  • We have a range of games for you to use, but if there is something else that you would like to do or somewhere you would like to go, speak to your Supervisor who will see if this can be arranged.

  • When having Contact at Foundations you may like to bake with your Mum or Dad. Ask us and we can make sure that the Kitchen is free for you to use.

Parenting Capacity Assessments And Parenting Support

Parenting Capacity Assessment consists of interviews, both jointly and separately with the Parents to ascertain strengths and limitations, to enable a more in depth assessment.

Over the years, Foundations Social Workers have felt that no one assessments tool is sufficient and therefore we use a range of tools to undertake this, these include:

  • Sue McGaw - for parents with learning difficulties

  • Mark Hammer - 'What Kids Need?'

  • The Salford 'Parenting Assessment' Tool

  • The Department of Health Core Assessment

  • Using a range of assessment tools allow us to tailor assessments to individual circumstances. We provide assessments for both Public and Private Law. For further information or to discuss your requirements please contact Lesley Singleton or Vicky West, details can be found on the 'Contact Us' page above.

Parenting Support

Do you find parenting stressful? We can support you in developing skills to deal with challenging behaviors displayed by children at different times throughout their development from the 'terrible twos' to the 'rebellious teen'. Short courses of three hours run monthly. You will have a chance to meet other parents as well as develop strategies. Please call to check out dates. Small fee applies.

Commonly asked FAQ

My partner has left me and I do not want to go to court. What help is there for arranging what should happen next?

Court is a very costly way to go forward and often Courts will take away your responsibility about making decisions about what happens with your children. In April 2013 it will be much harder to get legal aid to help you.

Research notes that it is much better for all involved particularly children if the separation and divorcing families make their own arrangements. This often means seeing an ex partner or family member and negotiating what is best for all concerned. However if you do not want to see your ex-partner we can still make arrangements to make agreements through 'shuttle mediation'.

Impact is a four hour programme which will help you to understand the process and explain strategies and techniques to help you through this journey including, looking at residence, contact, maintenance, mediation, family group conferences and co-parenting.

Are the staff and supervisors fully trained?

The Chief Executive Officer and Operations Manager at Foundations are fully qualified Social Workers and all Staff and volunteers are trained in Safeguarding, Child Protection, Health and Safety, Observing, Supervising Contact, Intervening and Supporting families. All Staff, Trustees and Volunteers at Foundations are required to have an enhanced CRB check and this is renewed frequently. Foundations is also accredited by NACCC.

How will Foundations know about any risks?

Prior to Contact starting, all Parents and Children have to meet with the Supervisor and Contact Co-ordinator. At this time, a Contact Plan will be completed, taking into account any concerns that Parents and Children may have. A Risk Assessment is undertaken from all of this information, which the Supervisor will be aware of.

My child does not know the staff at Foundations, what if they do not feel safe?

Foundations Policy states that all Families are to visit the Centre and to meet with Staff before Contact starts, so that the Child/Children and Parents feel comfortable within the Centre and are familiar with the Staff/Supervisors who will be supporting them. Parents and Children can also express any worries that they have. For younger children this may mean coming to the center on different occasions to spend time playing with the supervisor so that they have a developed trusting working relationship when contact begins.

My ex-partner says horrible things about me to the children and this upsets them, what should I do?

Foundations is an independent service and does not support Children being part of Adult issues. Parents are not allowed to discuss adult issues in front of Children at Foundations and if this happens, Supervisors will intervene and if this persists contact may be stopped.

Will my Child be Supervised at all times?

Depending on the service that you require, a Supervisor will be available at all times during Contact. If the service required is Supervised then a Supervisor will be present with the Family at all times during Contact. If the service required is Supported, a Supervisor is available and will enter the Contact Room on a regular basis.

How will I know what happens during Contact?

Supervisors are required to complete a Feedback Form for all Contact services. These are called Feedback Forms and Verbatim Reports. Feedback Forms give an overview of Contact and any relevant information. Verbatim reports are a word for word account of what happens and what is said within Contact. Supervisors will also inform all parties is there was anything significant that happened during Contact, such as injuries or sickness. Supervisors can also feedback to both parties on how Contact went at the end of Contact.

Who will the feedback notes be sent to?

Feedback will be given to both the resident and non resident parents or another person if agreed. If there is a solicitor or CAFCASS officer the feedback will be sent to them to support them in asking the court (if the matter is in Court) to make arrangements for the child, such who the child lives with and when contact should take place.

What happens if one party does not attend Contact?

Foundations Staff will Contact the relevant party that has not attended and will inform them that Contact was due to take place. Foundations Policies state that if one party does not attend Contact after twenty minutes of the Contact start time, Contact will be terminated and full payment must be paid. Please see the 'Terms, Conditions & Rules' page regarding Contact Payments.

What happens if my Child is ill and cannot make the Contact?

As soon as you know that your Child is unable to make Contact due to illness, please call Foundations and inform Staff that they will not be attending and a message can be passed on to the family member they were due to have contact with.

Will I come into Contact with my ex-partner?

Under Foundations Safeguarding Policy and particularly when emotions are high, Foundations has in place a policy to ensure that all who attend our center are and feel safe. We ask the person having contact to arrive fifteen minutes prior to Contact and they will be shown to the Contact Room, where they can prepare. We also ask that they wait after Contact for a period of fifteen minutes to allow them to tidy the room they were in and to ensure that everyone feels safe.

Will I need to give my personal details?

Referral Forms will be sent out when Contact has been agreed. This will require the referrer to fill out the relevant information about all parties, such as Name, Date of Birth, Address, Contact Number etc. The information given is kept strictly confidential and will not be passed on to third parties or anyone else without prior permission.

I am a grandparent is there a programme for me?

This programme is suitable and all those involved, whether a Grandparent, Aunt, new partner, close friend, all those that support the children and you will benefit from this programme.

The programme runs on the first Thursday of every month 17.30-21.30.

What do I do if my child says they do not want to come to contact?

Children are attuned to their parents particularly the one they live with, they often make up their own minds as to what is going on and often this based on the behaviors that they see from their main carer's or significant adults. Children will often state that they do not wish to see a relative but often this is not what they want but feel it is what the adults around them want. Even teenagers although can make an informed decision cannot do so if they are angry at a parent or other significant family member. As adults we have to support children in doing things that they may not wish to do as we know that it is in their best interest. Families are important as they support children with their identity and emotional development.

Most Children want their mums and dads to be together and often they do not know how to express their wishes and feelings so they act out. They can be really naughty or quiet and withdrawn, some children get illnesses such as headaches and tummy aches when they are worried or unsure, they can also have night terrors (bad dreams) or wet the bed. Some children also regress to a younger age. The 'impact' programme explores this much further.

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