FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. What is supervised access? A. When parents separate, access visits with children may be a problem. Sometimes, difficulties arise at the time of the exchange of the child between parents or between a parent and a relative, such as a grandparent. Other times there may be concerns about the visits themselves. Our supervised access program, called Centre York Centre, provides a setting where visits and exchanges can take place under the supervision of trained staff and volunteers. Upon request, we also provide the court and lawyers with copies of our observation reports.
Q. What is a “custodial party”? And what is a “non-custodial party”? A. The custodial party is the person who has permanent or temporary custody of the child. In other words, the custodial party is the person who the child lives with and who is responsible for the child. Usually the custodial party is a parent, but sometimes a custodial party is a grandparent or some other person. The non-custodial party is usually the child’s other parent, who does not reside with the child. Custody of a child may be as determined by a court order or as agreed by parents in a separation agreement.
Q. What is a supervised visit? What is a supervised exchange? A. In a supervised visit, a non-custodial parent visits with his or her child(ren) at the Centre York Centre. The visit is supervised by the centre’s staff. There is no contact between parties.
In a supervised exchange, the custodial parent brings the child to the Centre York Centre. The non-custodial parent picks the child up and they have an unsupervised visit away from the centre. Then the non-custodial parent brings the child back to the access centre, where the child is returned to his or her custodial parent. There is no contact between parties.
Q. What are the objectives of Centre York Centre? A. Supervised Access Centres provide a safe and non-threatening, CHILD-FOCUSED, neutral environment for visits and exchanges between children and non-custodial parties or other persons such as grandparents, where there is a concern for the safety of the child and/or the adults using the access centre by:
Providing an environment that is non-stigmatizing and accessible – where families feel welcome regardless of their religion, ethnic or socio-economic background, gender, race, ability, sexual orientation or reason for referral;
Providing a safe drop-off/pick-up point where children may be transferred between a custodial party or other approved person, and the non-custodial party for visits or exchanges;
Helping ease the tensions of access arrangements for children and for both the custodial and non-custodial parties, eliminating direct contact, reducing opportunities for children to be subjected to conflict at the time of access;
Ensuring the safety of all persons involved in the program, including staff and volunteers;
Facilitating families to carry out their access requirements as stipulated by court orders or by written agreement of the parties subject to the availability of the access centre;
Directly supervising and monitoring all interactions between parents and children and intervening when the safety, health or welfare of the child or other participants is at risk;
Being an IMPARTIAL observer and not an agent of either party, to assure that visitation is facilitated without risk to the health, safety or welfare of any child or any adult participant;
Ensuring that both parties are following the centre’s policies and procedure guidelines, which are provided to clients during the intake process;
Providing, on request, factual documentation on the interaction between participants and children during access visits or exchanges to legal counsel and/or the parties.
Q. Who provides funding for the program? A. Centre York Centre is a non-profit organization that is funded by the Ministry of the Attorney General and operated by a volunteer Board of Directors.
Q. Who supervises visits/exchanges? A. Visits and exchanges are supervised by access workers. In addition to specific training for our program, access workers have a relevant educational background such as a diploma in social services or early childhood education, or a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, sociology, crime and deviance, social work or human resources.
Q. What are the requirements for using Centre York Centre? A. Families can use Centre York Centre if they have a Court Order, Minutes of Settlement, Mediation Agreement, Mutual Agreement between both parties or Endorsement for supervised visits and exchanges. Referrals are accepted from lawyers, mediators and the Courts. Voluntary arrangements are also accepted.
Q. How long can families use Centre York Centre? A. Parties can use our program for as long as they require our services or until the child turns 18 years of age.
Q. Does Centre York Centre ever refuse, cancel or terminate service? A. Yes, Centre York Centre reserves the right to refuse, cancel or terminate service where the safety of participants and staff cannot be reasonably ensured. Examples include but not limited to:
A violation of the service agreement;
Parties decide to withdraw from our program for their own reasons;
The non-custodial party misses three consecutive visits without any notice;
The non-custodial party arrives under the influence of alcohol/drugs;
A Child Welfare Agency becomes involved in the case;
There is an on-going criminal matter.
Q. What gives Centre York Centre, Supervised Access Program authority to decline a case? A. Section 34 (2) of the Children's Law Reform Act provides that when a court directs a person, a children’s aid society or other body to supervise access, it is subject to that person's or body's consent.
Q. What if I am a new-comer to Canada and cannot speak English/French? A. Our program will make arrangements for a translator to attend each visit. Costs will be discussed and reviewed with both parties and their lawyers.
Q. What if the custodial party moves into another Court District? A. The party can easily request a transfer to another Supervised Access Centre. Please note that a transfer is subject to available space.
Q. Does Centre York Centre make custody and access recommendations? A. No. Centre York Centre provides a place for visits and exchanges. Factual observations provided by the Centre York Centre may, however, provide information to guide an assessor in making recommendations to the court or may assist the court in making orders that are in the best interest of the child.
Q. Does Centre York Centre provide services other than supervised visits and exchanges? A. No. The staff and volunteers at Centre York Centre do not provide services such as counselling, mediation, therapy, or parent education.
Q. Does Centre York Centre provide off-site or one-on-one visits? A. No. Visits and exchanges are limited to on-site, group settings.
Q. Does Centre York Centre provide service to children who are in the care of a Child Welfare Agency? A. No. Centre York Centre supervises visits and exchanges in custody and access matters. Child welfare (protection) cases are governed by the Child and Family Services Act and are typically supervised by the Children's Aid Society (CAS).
Q. Where are the supervised access centres located in Ontario? A. The Ministry of the Attorney General provides funding to supervised access centres and satellites across the province as part of the Supervised Access Program. For further information regarding the location of centres and satellites, please refer to the Ministry of the Attorney General website.