Concerns sometimes arise about a parent’s ability to provide care for or maintain safety of a child. However, there may be a desire or even requirement that parent/child contact continue. Supervised access provides a means to enable parent/child contact while assuring the needs of the child are maintained.
Supervised access may be provided by an agreed upon person. That person may be the other parent, extended kin or friend. It is important that all persons follow whatever agreed upon rules that are put in place to facilitate the parent/child contact. That includes whoever provides the access.
If parents cannot agree upon a person to provide the supervision, then other options include a paid person to provide the service at home or in the community, or using services through an exchange centre.
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There are agencies who can provide people on contract to enable supervision. This may be expensive and is typically used on a short-term basis to facilitate specific short-term objectives.
There are also supervised access and exchange centres. The parent/child contact would take place at the centre. These centres are child-friendly with play and meeting areas. Parents can usually also bring a snack or meal to enjoy with their child. These centres tend to stagger the arrival and departure times of the parents to limit parental contact in case of potential conflict.
Supervised access is usually considered an interim solution for facilitating parent/child contact. It is hoped that with time, the issues leading to this service will be addressed and dealt with so that parent/child contact can occur more naturally, without supervision.
Many agencies and individuals who provide supervised access services belong to the “Supervised Visitation Network.” Information about SVN can be found here. The website includes a listing of services worldwide.
The Government of Ontario also provides information and a listing of supervised access services in Ontario. Information specific to Ontario can be found here.
Your lawyer or mediator can help you negotiate the use and terms of supervised access for your situation.