Mixed reception for Bill’s contact plans

    Children’s charities have welcomed government proposals to give
    courts powers to improve and enforce contact arrangements between
    children and parents following a separation.

    Plans to give judges the authority to direct parents in a
    contact case to parenting programmes, and where necessary to
    enforce contact orders, were set out in the draft Children
    (Contact) and Adoption Bill, published last week.

    Baaf Adoption and Fostering chief executive Felicity Collier and
    NCH policy director Caroline Abraham backed powers for courts to
    impose community service or curfews on parents who breach contact

    Collier said: “Children have to have a relationship with both
    parents. It is important to find an effective way of persuading
    parents to co-operate. Sadly, they are not always willing to do
    this, so some enforcement is required.”

    But domestic violence charity Refuge condemned the government’s
    plan to enforce curfews and the possible electronic monitoring of
    parents. Chief executive Sandra Horley warned that the plans could
    put children at risk. “Many of those [women who stop their
    ex-partners from seeing their children] are trying to protect them
    from violence and harm.”

    The bill follows a DfES report last month, which revealed plans
    for a greater role for the Children and Family Court Advisory and
    Support Service in in-court mediation services.

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