When a child is looked after, the child should normally be able to stay in touch with their parents, their brothers and sisters, and other people who are important to them, unless this would be harmful to them. The word used for ‘staying in touch’ is contact.
If the child is looked after either under a court order or by agreement with the parents or others with parental responsibility, it will be the social worker’s job to set up arrangements for this contact, that will be best for the child. They should also make sure that the child is kept safe and feels secure.
The social worker should help you have a written agreement with the parents (or others) about contact. 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 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. If there is a court order in place the court would normally have to give permission for contact with parents to be stopped altogether.