When a child is living with you under a Residence Order or Special Guardianship Order, they should be able to stay in touch with their parents, their brothers and sisters, and other people who are important to them. The word used for ‘staying in touch’ is contact.
As the person raising the child, you should think about how to make sure that the child is safe and feels secure when they are having contact with other people in the family.
You may also want to write down an agreement with the parents (or others) about contact. The social worker could help you with this. This agreement could say:
- What sort of contact there will be: face-to-face, telephone, greeting cards, email, Facebook, or any other form of contact;
- Where contact will take place;
- How often it will take place, on what days, at what time, and how long it will last;
- What will happen if you or the parents (or others) are late for contact;
- Who will be there;
- Whether the contact will be formally supervised;
- What you or the parents (or others) should do if you cannot keep to the arrangement;
- Whether the contact will be rearranged if it does not take place;
- How any changes to the arrangement will be discussed;
- How any disagreements about contact will be resolved;
- Whether the arrangement will be reviewed, and if so when;
- How you and the parents (or others) ought to behave in contact, for example not arguing in the contact meeting; and
- Anything that should not happen during contact, for example no one should be drunk or under the influence of drugs, or scare the children.
Contact might not happen if it is not safe for the child, but this is a very serious decision to make. The court will normally look at the contact arrangements when it makes the Residence Order or Special Guardianship Order.