FAMILY CONTACT SERVICE AGREEMENT
Parents play a vital role in making contact visits an enjoyable and positive experience for themselves and their child, and both the parties/parents have roles and responsibilities in this regard.
The Resident Parent (the parent with whom the child resides) has the role and responsibility of preparing the child, in a positive way, in advance of the visit about travelling/being with another person (the Supervisor) and spending time with the other parent.
Phoenix Rising For Children (PRFC) Contact Supervisors recognise that parents may find the presence of a Contact Supervisor at their visits stressful and challenging. However, the overall aim of contact supervision is to assist you and your child to have an enjoyable and positive experience.
The following information on roles and responsibilities for each of the parties is intended to identify and clarify protocols and boundaries for the parties. In providing this information, PRFC also seeks that the parties agree upon all arrangements associated with the contact visits.
A CONTACT SUPERVISOR:
- A Contact Supervisor will always be required to be present during the contact visit, unless PRFC receives clear instructions to the contrary. They will seek to support you and your child to have a pleasant time and facilitate a positive experience for your child before and following the contact.
- The PRFC Supervisor has responsibility to ensure the safety, welfare, and wellbeing of the child/ren they are supervising; however, there is an expectation the parent having contact with the child/ren takes responsibility for providing all aspects of care and managing the child/ren’s behaviour during the visit.
- It is important for the Contact Supervisor to be able to hear and see all that is occurring. You will not be able to take your child out of the sight or hearing of the Contact Supervisor.
- This can be challenging for some parents, however, it is important to remember that supervisors write a report following the visit and by being in proximity they are able to truly reflect what occurred – the positives, as well as negatives. We encourage you to view this as a positive and an opportunity for you to demonstrate your parenting and care-giving skills.
- The Supervisor will write a report following the visit which is often filed at court by the legal representatives of the parties involved. This report is comprehensive and if you do not want information included in the report of a personal nature, it is best to not discuss this information during the contact. A written report is provided per contact and is a compulsory aspect of the service provision.
- The report will give details of (a) who attended the visit (b) what activities and interactions took place (c) what was talked about and other information relevant to the wellbeing and welfare of the child. While supervisors seek to manage negative behaviour, any adverse events where your child showed distress, or other events such as where information was shared with your child that was inappropriate or hurtful, for example, negatively mentioning another parent, discussing the issues to do with court or making/breaking unreasonable promises to the child/young person) will be recorded in the report. Reports are prepared with the principal consideration of the child’s safety, welfare, and wellbeing. The written reports are provided to both parents, the supervised parent, and the resident parent.
- The purpose of the report is to illustrate the supervised persons parental capacity and to reflect how children respond to this parent. It is not the supervisor’s role to gather evidence for either parent.
B SUPERVISED PARENT – Role + Responsibilities:
- Plan to be on time for the visit, allowing for additional time to get to the meeting venue should there be a delay while in transit. This is especially important if you are unfamiliar with a new meeting place or venue.
- Plan and prepare during the visit for when the contact ends, saying goodbye to your children can be emotional however it is important that children are supported during this, so they are not negatively impacted.
- While we understand such visits can be a difficult and an emotional time, try to be as calm and positive as possible throughout contact. It has been proven that demonstrating a positive emotional state will assist and benefit the wellbeing of your child/ren, thus ensuring their visit is a positive experience.
- Do not discuss court matters or the court ordered arrangements for supervised visitation with your child/ren.
- Do not question or interrogate your child about their living arrangements or the Resident Parent.
- Do not engage the supervisor or your child/ren in negative discussions about other parties involved in your case.
- It is your responsibility to manage your child/ren’s behaviour during the contact visit. Please try to do this in a positive way.
- Supervision is provided to the person named in the court orders, or on the received referral form.
- Please be aware that some foods are not nutritionally good for children and can, and often do, affect their behaviour. Please try to buy or bring food to the visit that is healthy, with low sugar levels and minimal amounts of artificial colours and flavours. It is okay to bring a special treat but keep these to a minimum. Please understand that unhealthy and sugary foods will impact on your child’s ability to remain calm and enjoy their time with you.
- From time to time, Contact Supervisors may give directions regarding your children. This may include pointing out that your child/ren are engaging in dangerous activities that may result in falls/accidents; suggesting alternative methods for disciplining the child/ren; reminders to change a child’s nappy etc. You are expected to follow these reasonable directions.
- Parents and participants at the visits and others involved in some way are not to record or film the visits. Supervisors are not to be photographed or filmed at any time by any parties involved.
- There are many activities that are appropriate for parents and children to participate in. There are also activities that make supervision difficult and therefore not permitted during the visits. Please check information provided by PRFC regarding venues and approved activities. For example: swimming at the beach/in the ocean is not approved, swimming in a private pool is generally not allowed unless negotiated prior to the visit and agreed in writing by all parties involved, noting the lower level of supervision as the supervisor does not enter the pool. Ice skating, rollerblading or any similar activity, amusement park rides, games simulating violence, paintball, activities requiring a waiver signed are not approved as it is not possible to supervise such activities.
- The meeting location of the contact is confirmed prior to the contact date and advised by the referring parties. Any changes to this location must be agreed and arranged prior to the contact day and PRFC informed with appropriate notice.
- Contact Supervisors and children being supervised at the contact visit, are NOT permitted to travel in the vehicle of the person/s being supervised, or other vehicles nominated by the person/s being supervised.If transportation is required during a contact visit, the supervisor will transport the children and meet the person being supervised at the designated venue. If arranged prior to the contact, or agreed by PRFC Management, the Contact Supervisor may travel with the person being supervised on a public conveyance, such as bus, tram, ferry, train, taxi, uber.
- Contact Supervisors are not permitted to negotiate (pass messages or notes) between parties and engage in any activity to this effect. Any information you wish to relay to another party is best done between yourselves or through your legal representation or in another way.
- The written reports provided by the Contact Supervisor are not to be discussed during the contact visit. If you wish to address something in a previously provided report, you will need to contact the PRFC Administration Team. It is not appropriate to question the supervisor about their reporting or make requests that certain information be included or changed in the report. Reports are based on the supervisor’s observations and not on what either parent directs to be included in the report.
C CONTACT VISIT GUIDELINES
It is important to present positively for the visit. Contact visits will not proceed in the following circumstances:
- You come to the contact visit under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- You fail to comply with the agreed arrangements
- You are observed to be in an inappropriate emotional state, such as highly agitated, aggressive or abusive
The following actions are not permitted during the contact and may lead to cancellation of the visit:
- Consumption of drugs or alcohol
- You hit or physically discipline your child
- You threaten your child with physical punishment or violence
- You discuss legal matters or your court case with your child or the supervisor
- You show your child you are angry or upset with the child’s other parent, extended family or the court
- You speak negatively about the child/ren’s other parent/family members
- You are aggressive or abusive towards the supervisor
Please note: If any of these happen, the Contact Supervisor will firstly warn you to correct your behaviour and will end the contact if your behaviour continues. Make sure you listen to any directions the Supervisor may give about contact and follow them carefully. Please keep in mind the Contact Supervisor is simply seeking the best outcome for all.
E RESIDENT PARENT – Role + Responsibilities:
- In instances where supervised contact is court ordered, it is the role of the parent/s and their legal representatives to interpret and abide by court orders; it is not PRFC’s responsibility. PRFC expects the parents, directly or through their legal representatives, to arrive at agreed arrangements consistent with the court orders and advise PRFC. PRFC will always seek to maintain a position of neutrality, with a focus on the welfare and wellbeing of the child.
- The parent with whom the child resides has responsibility for preparing the child for the visit and to ensure the child is well and positively prepared to attend and participate. For further information please refer to the Supervised Contact Information and Resource Links found in the Introductory Letter.
- PRFC Supervisors are trained to assist the child during handover, however, the work in advance of the visit by the parent with whom the child resides is crucial, as they are best positioned to positively prepare the child and PRFC expects this to occur.
- While resident parents sometimes feel they can dictate the terms of the visit, PRFC expects that they will arrive at an agreement with the supervised parent and convey these agreed arrangements to PRFC.
- PRFC will seek to maintain a position of neutrality, with a focus on the welfare and wellbeing of the child.
- Resident Parent is to ensure child/ren are not questioned and interrogated about the time they are spending with the Supervised Parent. The supervisor will provide a detailed report about what has transpired during the supervised visit.
- The Resident Parent and others involved in the handover of children are not to film, photograph, or record during the visits. Supervisors are not to be photographed or filmed at any time by any parties involved.
- The Resident Parent is to ensure that essentials are packed for the care of children during contact. This will include water, food for a young baby such as milk etc., clothing to suit weather conditions, a hat, sunscreen etc. We request parents come to an agreement regarding who will be responsible for such provisions for ongoing visitation.
- PRFC may charge an Administration Fee (refer to price list) at PRFC’s discretion if the work undertaken on behalf of your family falls outside the standard scheduling and administration obligations for arranging and facilitating contact supervision. The person requesting the excess work will be financially responsible for this fee.
Please note: PRFC understands there is often conflict for both the parties associated with Supervised Visits, however, parent/s are advised that they are not to draw the Supervisor into the conflict. This also means that parents are not to question/interrogate Supervisors before, during or after contact visits.
The Supervisor will provide feedback about the visit to ensure that the resident parent is adequately informed as to what the child ate, when they attended the toilet and other such information.
This feedback will be in relation to the child, and detailed feedback about the visit will be provided in the report. The feedback the Supervisor provides at the end of the visit is about equipping the parent/s to provide the best possible support to their child and is to support an understanding of what the child has experienced. It is not designed to be used in furthering any dispute that exists between the parents. For further information please refer to the Supervised Contact Information and Resource Links found in the Introductory Letter.
F PROCEEDING AND INVOLVING THE OTHER PARENT/PARTY:
- After contacting PRFC, please ensure that the other parent/party are made aware of your intention/application to use PRFC services and ensure they are provided with the relevant documents.
All relevant parties will be required to read the PRFC Information Pack and to complete and sign a Family Contact Service Agreement per parent. we require one Referral Form, co-signed by both parents indicating agreement to the visitation arrangement. The referral cannot progress until PRFC receives completed documentation from both parties/parents.
- Should you wish to include other family/friends in contact visits, please ensure the other party/parent is notified and agreeable to those people attending, and in such instances PRFC must be informed in advance of the contact visit.
G QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS:
- If you have any questions regarding the contact visit arrangements, please call the PRFC office on (02) 9873 3992. This number is answered during office hours (Monday–Friday: 9am-5pm). The after-hours message on the office number provides out-of-hours mobile numbers. These numbers are provided in the event of an emergency or where information needs to be passed on or requires an urgent response.
- Note that Supervisors are not involved in arranging contacts and are not able to give you information regarding your contact visits. Any queries regarding your contact MUST be communicated directly to the PRFC Office.
- Please direct questions of a legal nature to your lawyer or other relevant professional.
H SUSPENDING OR CEASING SERVICE PROVISION:
PRFC may decide to suspend or cease providing service. This might be considered, for example where:
- The way the visit is preceding is, in the view of the Supervisor often with support from a manager, too stressful or traumatic for the child.
- PRFC determines that it cannot effectively address the safety requirements or other issues involved in the case.
- The case is placing an undue demand on PRFC resources.
- One or both of the parties have failed to comply with the terms and conditions of the service.
Please note: The decision to suspend or cease providing a service will be made known to the party/parties. PRFC personnel will provide the reasons for the decision to suspend or cease providing a service and where such issues can be resolved, PRFC would then review that decision. Information regarding organisational right of appeal procedures, where requested, will be provided to the parties.
Information provided in this form is treated as CONFIDENTIAL