Canada Court Watch - Family Justice Review Committee
Policy and Position Statements

Supervised Visitation Centers
(Under public review)

Discussion

The Family Justice Review Committee has received a number of complaints from children and parents in regards to supervised access centers.

Some of the complaints we receive include:

  • That some visitation centers will not allow parents to bring in cameras so that they can take pictures of their children.  Some parents report that they have to sign documents agreeing not to take pictures or they will have access to their children terminated.

  • Some parents have reported being warned by staff that if they try to take pictures of their child that they will not be allowed to visit with their child in the future.

  • That staff will not even give a couple of minutes of their time to snap a photo of the child with a parent.

  • That staff have misinterpreted a child's behaviours and/or parent's actions which has resulted in an unfavourable report being written against the access parent, when in fact, there was a valid explanation for what may have occurred during the child's visit with the access parent.

  • Some extended family members and friends of the child have been turned away and told that they cannot visit with the child without the permission of the custodial parent.  Many times, vindictive custodial parent used the access centers as a weapon to control the child's access to his/her family and friends.

  • That workers have written biased reports intended to make one parent look bad and the other parent look good.

  • That it takes weeks to get reports printed up.

  • Children and parents have complained that older or more mature children find supervised access centers boring to the point where they feel embarrassed to go there.  Forcing an older child to visit with a parent at an access center when this is not appropriate for the child and the circumstances, is in itself, a form of child abuse.

In the matter of supervised access centers it is the position of the Family Justice Review Committee:

  • That parents be allowed to take picture of their children at the centers.  If staff are concerned about the images of other children being captured or about other issues relating to the taking of pictures, then provisions should be made at the center where pictures can be taken of children and parents. Polices relating to parents taking pictures with their children should be clearly published and made available to all who request a copy of this policy.

  • That staff at a supervised access center should be willing to take pictures of children and parents upon request.

  • Ideally, parents should not be charged to visit their children in a supervised access center.  Where charges are levied, costs for supervised access should be paid for by both parties in accordance to their ability to pay.

  • That additional family members or friends who are known by the child should be allowed to visit the child along with the visiting parent.  It should be the child, not the custodial parent who decides who the child can meet with, unless there is a court Order specifically ordering otherwise.

  • That parents should be allowed to bring in their own professional, such as a social worker or psychologist, to observe the visits between the child and the access parent for the purposed of providing additional third party observations of the access visit.

  • Reports by workers should be made up immediately after a supervised access visit while events are fresh in the worker's mind.

  • That reports from the visitation center should be available to parents within 7 days.

  • That workers should immediately after a visit, speak to the visiting parent regarding any concern that the worker may have had about the supervised access visit so that the worker can ensure that he/she did not misinterpret the child's behaviours and/or parent's actions in a situation.

  • Older or more mature children should not be forced to have supervised access to a parent at a supervised access center if the child indicates that the center is too boring or if they would prefer to have access to a parent outside of a supervised access center.