The Funding Crisis Facing Child Contact Centres

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Around 15,000 children or 9,000 families are helped by Child Contact Centres each year. The Chair of the National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC) Elizabeth Coe met with the Family Courts Unions Parliamentary Group (FCUPG) and expressed her concerns about legal aid cuts and the effects they are having on families in need.

Father and son

Brilliant Work Done By NACCC

The NACCC is a charitable organisation that relies on donations and grants to keep going. They also have an army of around 6000 dedicated volunteers who have all been safety checked and often work on the weekend. For the 400 plus member centres who are affiliated and accredited by the NACCC, they provide a safe and secure place for contact to resume between a child and their absent parent.

NACCC not only affiliate and accredit all of these centres but they process things such as DBS checks, safeguarding training and the health and safety of the buildings used. They offer a valuable service to families and a credit to the communities they operate in. However, the NACCC is still waiting to see if the Ministry of Defence will still be funding this service after the 1st of April 2015 despite its success.

Without the use of Child Contact Centres parents and children could lack the support needed to make child contact a reality for some families.

"An Invaluable Resource"

Following on from the Legal Aid cuts, there has been a worrying reduction in the number of families being referred to Child Contact Centres. Elizabeth said "it is extremely unlikely that a miracle has occurred and parents are no longer separating and are sorting out their own problems." Sir Anthony Douglas of CAFCASS met with the FCUPG last year who confirmed that there has been a 25% decrease in private law cases received by CAFCASS and publically funded mediation is also on the decline since Legal Aid cuts. A more likely scenario is that people are unable to leave abusive relationships due to lack of support and cuts, leaving them and their children in a toxic environment.

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Carol Chrisfield, one of our Family Lawyers who specialises in children's issues commented, "Contact Centres are an invaluable resource for families, providing a means for contact to be reintroduced where the parents have found this difficult in the past. Any demise of contact centres would be a significant loss to many separating parents."


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