We appreciate that many parents will have concerns with regards to whether contact with their children can go ahead and, if so, how this will work in practice.
Supervised Contact in a Contact Centre
By consequence of the current circumstances we all find ourselves in due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), a significant amount of contact centres have already closed their doors and we expect that those still open will close imminently.
As a result, for the safety of all concerned Local Authorities across Merseyside are likely to stop direct contact until the situation improves.
Of course, local Authorities are under a duty to promote contact. In the current national circumstances, it seems unlikely that parents will be having face to face contact if it is required to be professionally supervised. We have however already seen Local Authorities reacting to this and utilising technology and offering Facetime contact as an alternative.
However, we appreciate that this is not always ideal because particularly if your child may be very young. If there are matters that the social worker has not taken into account in drawing up the contact plan to occur during the current national emergency you should speak to them and see if changes can be made.
If you still believe that the alternative contact that the Local Authority have offered you is not suitable for any reason, and you are currently in proceedings you should speak to your solicitor to see if anything else can be done.
Parents with a Child Arrangements Order
For those who have contact with their child(ren) under a Child Arrangements Order, we appreciate that either or both parents may be experiencing some anxiety at the prospect of having to transport children to and from each other’s homes and the potential risks that may pose.
The Government have confirmed this morning that contact in these circumstances should continue as normal. Despite the national emergency, parents are still able to transport children to and from contact with another parent as per any Order currently in place, or any longstanding private arrangements.
Clearly it is encouraging that the government recognise the importance of maintaining a relationship with both of a child’s parents in the guidance they have provided. Both parents will of course want to make sure that this is done safely.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns regarding contact with your child(ren) – we are still here to help you as normal.