Barnar­dos drops su­per­vised vis­its

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

A charity that pro­vides su­per­vised vis­its be­tween par­ents in high con­flict or high risk sit­u­a­tions and their chil­dren has stopped pro­vid­ing the ser­vice in Marl­bor­ough.

Barnar­dos has been run­ning the su­per­vised ses­sions in some form in Marl­bor­ough for more than 10 years, but with­drew the ser­vice on Mon­day due to lack of fund­ing.

The ser­vice al­lowed a child to spend time with a par­ent they did not live with, when the court was con­cerned about the child’s safety.

Su­per­vised con­tact was most of­ten or­dered by the court, when a par­ent had been vi­o­lent, ei­ther to­wards the other par­ent or the child.

The Min­istry of Jus­tice said it would en­sure the ser­vice was car­ried on in the in­terim, un­til per­ma­nent ar­range­ments were made.

Six fam­i­lies were us­ing the ser­vice in Blen­heim, the only town that had the ser­vice cut.

A Barnar­dos spokesper­son yes­ter­day called for fund­ing sup­port, say­ing they would con­tinue the ser­vice if they had the money.

‘‘We have made the de­ci­sion to close as the ser­vice is no longer fi­nan­cially vi­able for us to op­er­ate.’’

Fam­ily Court lawyer John Sand­ston said a new provider ‘‘shouldn’t make too much dif­fer­ence’’ be­cause they would have the same train­ing and qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

‘‘As long as it’s the same reg­u­lar­ity and same fre­quency as what Barnar­dos was do­ing,’’ he said. ‘‘What I’d be con­cerned about is if that tem­po­rary sit­u­a­tion fell away and there was a gap in time . . . a gap would be con­cern­ing for chil­dren, par­tic­u­larly be­cause they’re the most vul­ner­a­ble ones in this sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘The whole pur­pose of a su­per­vised provider is that it’s some­one in­de­pen­dent, some­one trained, to make sure that the con­tact is safe for the child, both emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally.’’

‘‘The law is that un­der the Care of Chil­dren Act, that the chil­dren’s best in­ter­ests and wel­fare must be pro­moted. There­fore if a child or chil­dren have had a re­la­tion­ship with the re­spon­dent, it’s nor­mally very im­por­tant that that re­la­tion­ship is main­tained, be­cause there’s nor­mally a level of at­tach­ment.’’

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