It may be the result of a difficult divorce, parental alienation, custody or visitation issues or an unfit parent, but the goal is always to preserve the parent-child bond. Ranging from birth to 12 years old, the children who are caught in the middle considered to be at risk are referred to agencies offering a safe and neutral environment. Often times living in foster care, a group home or with other family members, supervised visitation gives the opportunity for children, siblings and parents to meet.
Jane*, a single mother lost custody of her two-year old son to Youth Protection. Through the supervised visitation program at AMCAL Family Services, they have made it possible for her to see her son and maintain a good relationship with him. “The people were professional, respectful but more importantly, they cared about me, and my situation. They didn’t judge me as so many others had previously. I may have made some mistakes but at AMCAL it was all about my son and I.”
The key to these situations is to nurture the child-parent bond and continue to be a good parent even if that means a couple hours a week in a supervised setting. Maintaining normalcy is difficult when one is dealing with difficult and emotional situations or perhaps preoccupied with lawyers and court dates but keeping adult issues separate from your children is fundamental. Children do best when they have reliable, ongoing relationships with both parents and their emotional and physical safety must always be guaranteed. If necessary, outside help is available. Check with a local family service organization such as AMCAL Family Services, lawyer or mediator, healthcare professional or school. Also for more information about supervised visitation and custody exchange under the Youth Protection Act, refer to Batshaw Youth and Family Services and Centre jeunesse de Montréal-Institut universitaire (CJM-IU) and The YMCAs of Québec.
Although supervised visitation may not be an ideal situation and may limit family activities and time, it is important to make the experience a positive one; this time is valuable for your children. It helps to remember how very much children need regular, predictability with both parents.
AMCAL Family Services’ Supervised Visitation Program (SVP) offers the following:
- a safe and secure environment, in a neutral location, for families needing supervised access to their children, supervised exchanges, or for families dealing with custody and visitation issues.
- a multi-disiplinary, strength-based, solution-focused approach
- a neutral third-party, who is not involved in the management of the case
- children who are in long-term placement, in need of support for families referred by Batshaw to enable contact which would not be possible without supervision
- Visitation Exchanges for parents who are not allowed, or do not wish, to be in contact with each other