22 March 2019

Children's contact services: Key issues

This paper from AIFS examines current research evidence to identify the characteristics of families using Children's contact services (CCSs), and key issues in service provision. Families who use CCSs tend to be experiencing high levels of conflict and multiple and complex issues such as family violence, mental health problems and substance abuse. It is unclear from the research whether the "best interests of the child" are being met through the provision of supervision services; although in the limited research available many children express positive views about their experiences with these services. The research suggests that only a small number of families move to self-management of parenting time arrangements; with many leaving the service for other reasons, or remaining in the service for long periods of time. There are families for whom safe self-management of parenting time may never be possible due to the complexity of the problems these families face and the degree of risk from violence and abuse and parental incapacity (e.g., substance misuse and untreated mental illness). An integrated social services model is recommended for working with families to assist them in transitioning to self-management.