Importance of child contact when promoting relationships with parents and others
- Child contact refers to all relationship links between a child and their families of origin and friends, regardless of the form and frequency of these links. This may include overnight stays, telephone calls, exchange of letters or photographs or indirect links through third parties.
- These will range from frequent face to face contact to occasional exchanges of information. In some cases, contact will be supervised. Whatever the type of contact a child or young person receives – it can help them maintain important emotional and psychological bonds with significant people.
- The majority of children’s interests will best be served by efforts to maintain or develop relationship links with their birth families. Face to face meetings will generally be the most common and satisfactory way of maintaining such relationships.
- Even when there is no obvious contact, social workers and carers need to address the need to keep a child connected with their family background and to help them develop a sense of identity.
- Research related to child contact shows that the earliest weeks of a Child In Care episode are crucial to the success of a placement, the relationship between the parents, carers and social workers, the level of future contact and the prognosis for an early return home.
- Corporate parents therefore should ensure that contact arrangements are in place before or at the point a child moves to a foster placement and that arrangements for contact are recorded on the Placement Agreement/Plan.
- See our promoting-contact-course-pptx-sample-extracts-pdf-signed
Some useful practice guidance:
- For children separated from one or both birth parents through divorce or care proceedings, continuing contact with family members is usually important to their emotional and psychological development and well-being, Alan Slade, Coram (2002:7), A Guide to Best Practice in Supervised Child Contact. The EMPT® Managing Director, Astell Evans contributed to this guide and is acknowledged on page 5 of this book.
- Foster carers ‘are able to form and maintain contact and positive working relationships with parents and other significant adults for the child or young person’, Ofsted Framework for Independent Fostering Agencies (2014: 16).
- Children have, where appropriate, constructive contact with their parents, grandparents, siblings, half-siblings, wider family, friends and other people who play a significant role in their lives (NMS 9). Ofsted Framework for Independent Fostering Agencies (2014: 20).
- Foster carers play a crucial role in supporting children’s relationships. They need to offer a consistent, reliable base from which children can connect with their families safely. Their approach to the tasks involved in contact has implications for the welfare of their fostered children at the time and in the longer term, Fostering Network (2016).
- If the child has been abused, contact can allow abuse to continue if there is unsupervised direct contact or ineffective scrutiny of letters and cards. Foster carers are generally positive about contact but some report problems associated with it. In some cases these are serious, SCIE (2004).