Frequently Asked Questions

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Do Supervised Visits continue during COVID-19 & Lockdown?

Children in FOCUS continue to provide face-to-face or via Zoom supervised contact visits throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. We follow COVID-19 safe practices: regular hands washing/sanitising, wearing masks when necessary and social distancing from others.

COVID-19 Lockdown has caused a lot of uncertainty to separated families who are currently using supervised contact services.

Below are the answers to some of the frequently asked questions. Please be advised that this information is not legal advice. It is essential that you consult your lawyer regarding your specific circumstances.

COVID Related Questions & Answers

Children in FOCUS is an essential service and will continue to facilitate face-to-face or via Zoom supervised contact visits for existing and new clients.
Yes, you can leave your home during the Lockdown for the purpose of fulfilling your obligations under a Parenting Plan, Parenting Court Order, or other parenting arrangements.According to the NSW COVID-19 webpage, one of the reasonable excuses to leave home during the Lockdown is to “continue an existing arrangement for access to, and contact between, parents, children, and siblings”.Chief Justice of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia Hon William Alstergren released a statement regarding parenting orders during the COVID-19 Lockdown: ”Parents are still expected to comply with court orders in relation to parenting arrangements. This includes facilitating time being spent by the children with each parent or carer pursuant to parenting orders. It is imperative that, even if the orders cannot be strictly adhered to and are varied by the parties, the parties ensure that the purpose or spirit of the orders are respected when considering altering arrangements, and that they act in the best interest of the children”. It is important that parents are aware that refusal to comply with parenting orders during the COVID-19 Lockdown could be considered a contravention of Court orders. If parents decide not to attend arranged visits or withhold the child/ren without an agreement from both parties and their legal representatives, their actions are viewed as contravening their court order, in and out of Lockdown. This is because the Family Court has clearly stated that the Lockdown is not a liable reason for stopping contact without reasonable explanation and negotiation.
Parents are expected to follow Family Court orders during the Lockdown unless there is an unacceptable risk of harm to the children. This information needs to be communicated to the other parents via legal representatives and alternative arrangements made for the make-up time.
An alternative visit location must be agreed upon between the parents via their lawyers. We currently facilitate supervised visits in parent’s homes, in outdoor areas such as parks and via Zoom. Make-up time post-lockdown visitations can also be arranged. Please note all changes and negotiations must occur alongside your lawyers. It is not our role to negotiate these changes for the parents.
For in-person visits, parents are allowed to hug and kiss their children. However, it may be in the best interest of all parties to avoid kissing on the lips and face to limit the threat of virus transmission.
Parents need to socially distance from our supervisors, wear masks for indoor venues and regularly wash or sanitise yours and your child/ren's hands: at the beginning of the visit, after play and before each meal. Our supervisors will wear masks, sanitise their hands and maintain social distancing where possible, to do their job properly and ensure they can see and hear everything. If you or your children are unwell or have flu/cold like symptoms please let us know as soon as possible, get COVID tested and postpone the visit until you have the negative test results.
Parents must follow their Court orders and ensure their child’s visitation routine is continued. It is a difficult time for everyone, especially for children. It is important that children spend time with both parents, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and associated Lockdowns. Parents must be aware that refusal to comply with parenting orders and withholding a child from visitations with the other parent could constitute a contravention of a Court order. It is best to discuss any issues with your family lawyer, who will be able to give you legal advice according to your specific circumstances.

Supervised Visits General Information

There is an intake process that can take about a week, depending on both parents responding quickly. You can expect to be seeing your child within a weeks of us receiving both parents’ completed and signed Application Forms as long as we have all the information requested and both parents have come to an agreement on all aspects of the visit including time, date, location, food, fees, regularity, visitors etc.
Yes. We work with both parents and the supervisor to find a mutually suitable location, time, frequency and start date for your visits. We can assist by asking the parent however if they refuse you will need to negotiate the arrangements via your legal representatives/ lawyers.
The supervisor has the right to report in writing on everything you say and do during the visit. We limit our reporting to only relevant information which will show the relationship between the parent and child, the level of communication between the parent and child, the parenting style and any positive or negative events during the visit that are relevant to the wellbeing of the child.
The supervisor’s report is emailed to both parents within 7 days of the visit concluding and to their lawyers and Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL). The report may be used in court proceedings by both parents.
A supervisor contacts you prior to each visit. They meet the residential parent and child first at the agreed location and then bring the child to you at the agreed location (often a short distance away but sometimes a different location due to AVO’s in place). They stay nearby (2 meters radius) and make notes as you interact with your child. They may talk to you and the child from time to time to help you to feel comfortable with their presence. If the supervisor witnesses any inappropriate behaviour or has reason to believe the child is at risk, they have the right to terminate the visit. If a visit is terminated for this reason, a report will be issued and further visits may be suspended until a court hearing. The aim of the visits is to establish a foundation and build a relationship with your child until the other parent and/or court is satisfied that there is no risk to the child in you being unsupervised.
Yes. Our management team conducts a comprehensive intake interview, usually over the phone with each parent prior to the visits commencing. Based on the information given by both parents, we then allocate a suitable supervisor. The supervisor usually meets with the residential parent and child for what’s called a Meet & Greet prior to the first visit. The supervisor does not meet the visiting parent in person until the first visit, however, your supervisor will call you prior to the visit to discuss your expectations and establish a rapport with you.
Our supervisors have relevant tertiary qualifications in community and welfare services, childrens’ services, child care, teachers, psychologist etc and relevant working experience with children and families. They are skilled in report writing and trained to provide a professional, safe and caring environment for your child. All our staff have Police Check and Working with Children Check. You will receive their photo and supervisor’s profile so you know who is attending and can show it to the children.
After we receive our Application Form, we contact both parents and schedule an appointment time for a telephone interview. We allow up to 1 hour for the telephone interview (Intake) with each parent. During this interview, we receive all the information you wish to share with us about your situation, discuss all your concerns and how best we can assist you and keep the children safe. We will discuss your desired outcome for you and your child and answer any remaining questions you may have.
Should there be an emergency or accident during your visit, our supervisors will step in to respond and make determinations about the steps that are to be taken. We ask that you follow the directions of our supervisor if something out of the ordinary happens.
Arrangements around other family members or friends attending supervised visits are discussed and established at the intake interview. We suggest to have at least 4 visits before having the visitors at the contact visit. However, in saying that, if the parent the child reside with agrees to the visitors attending at an earlier stage we would assess that and could allow them to attend the visit sooner.
You can bring toys, colouring books, balls, balloons, bubbles and other age appropriate things for your child to play at the visit. Be mindful that your child would want to keep the toys and take the with them. So we recommend setting the rules about which toys your child can take with them, and which you will bring again next time