What to Expect: Supervised Family Time
Information for families about what to expect for supervised family time with Children in Care (CIC)
When the Court rules that your child, or children, are to become children in care, a ruling will also be made about family time arrangements.
This ruling will make clear:
- If family time has to be supervised
- Who can attend supervised family time sessions
- How often supervised family time can take place
- How long each session will last
- If the family time is at a family children's centre or out in the community
The arrangements for each of your children, and the amount of family time for different family members, might be different.
Before your first supervised family time, the social worker will write a Contact Agreement with you. This agreement will set out the do's and don'ts for family time sessions and will include:
- What you can expect from Children and Family Services
- What is expected of you in relation to family time (eg, arriving on time, not being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, etc.)
- Where and when family time will take place and how long it will last
- Any arrangements which are specific to your family
- What you can and can't bring to sessions (eg, toys or food)
- Who will arrive first and who will leave first
- The use of mobile phones and taking photographs or videoing
- Discussing the case and any Court related issues with the child
This agreement is to make sure that everyone understands what will happen at each family time session. It should be signed by both you and the social worker before the first session takes place. If things change, a new agreement must be signed.
It is preferable if your mobile phone is switched off during the entire session so that you have good quality time with your child.
The family time supervisor
You will be allocated a family support worker or family time supervisor, who will attend all family time sessions. They will be your main point of contact for issues about family time or support and advice.
The aim of family time sessions is to provide a positive experience.
The family time supervisor will stay in the room for the whole of the session and will take notes about how it is going. They will try to remain in the background as much as possible. If they feel that to continue with the session would be unsafe for your child they can bring the session to an end.
If you are involved in legal proceedings (about your children), your solicitor will give you a copy of these notes. You should receive these notes on a monthly basis.
Nearly all supervised family time sessions take place at a Contact Center. In West Berkshire this is usually at North Thatcham Children's Center. However, other venues will sometimes be used, for example Call Us House, Didcot Children's Centre or the Rivermead Community Centre. The venue depends on availability and we try to ensure that they are as close to the family as possible.
Occasionally, supervised family time sessions can take place in the community. However, this can only happen if the court has agreed to it.
How supervised family time is reviewed
Supervised family time is reviewed at each Children in Care (CIC) Review.
If there are problems with the supervision arrangement, the family time supervisor can be invited to the CIC Review to discuss how problems might be solved (as long as your child has agreed to this).
Your child can refuse to attend family time sessions.
Additional review meetings can be arranged if family time needs to be reviewed more frequently.