There may be times when the child in your care tells you they do not want to go to a contact visit. If this happens, it is important you make every effort to help the child feel comfortable to go. Any decision for the child not to attend contact cannot be made by you alone. This can only be decided by your case manager or the ACT Childrens Court.
There can be different reasons why a child does not want to attend contact, and they may tell you well before the visit is to happen, or it could be on the day.
If the child tells you early they do not want to go, it could be their way of testing if contact will be changed, or it could be a clear indication they are nervous and really do not want to go. In these situations, it is important you talk with the child about how they are feeling and why (remember to be sensitive and supportive when asking such questions). If after speaking with the child they still do not want to go, contact your case manager for help.
Sometimes the child may not verbalise their feelings early and at the time contact is to happen they may refuse to get in the car, disappear or create a distraction to prevent contact from occurring. If this happens, it is again important for you to talk with the child about how they are feeling and why – help them to focus on the positive aspects of contact, and if needed consult with your case manager. You can call the after hours service is this happens when contact occurs outside of business hours.
If at any point the child tells you they feel unsafe during contact or something happened to them during contact, immediately contact your case manager. If they are not available, contact their team leader or operations manager.
Whenever the child has been reluctant to go to a contact visit, and then attends the visit, it is important you check in with them when the visit is over. Ask the child how contact went and address the concerns they previously shared with you about not wanting to go. This can encourage them for future contact visits.
Remember, if the child’s contact arrangements have been set by the ACT Childrens Court through a contact provision, contact must occur unless an application is made to the Court to have their order changed. In extreme circumstances, a decision may be made by CYPS or ACT Together to cease all contact and immediately apply to the Court for a change of order.
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