Staying in touch with the child if they don’t come to live with you

If you want to stay in touch with the child, you should speak to the people who can agree to this. The word used for staying in touch is contact. The people who can agree to you having contact with the child are the people with Parental Responsibility.

Who you need to speak to will depend on who has parental responsibility:

  • If the child is in care, that would be the social worker.
  • If the child is accommodated, you should speak to the social worker and also the parents if you can.
  • If it is a private arrangement, it would usually be the parents you need to speak to.
  • If the people the child is living with have a Residence Order, they can agree to you seeing the child, though they may also have to check with the parents.
  • If they have a Special Guardianship Order, they can probably agree without checking with the parents.
  • If the child is on a child protection plan, the social worker might want to make sure the child is safe when they stay in touch with people so you would need to speak to the social worker as well. For example, sometimes the social worker might want to make sure that someone is there when the child is having contact, to watch what happens.

If it looks as if there might be problems about you staying in touch with the child you might want to write down an agreement with the carers about contact, to make it easier to manage.

This agreement could state:

  • 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 carers are late for contact;
  • Who will be there;
  • Whether the contact will be formally supervised;
  • What you or the carers 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 carers 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.

You could also consider trying to reach agreement in mediation.