Relationships are often difficult after separation or divorce. Sometimes visits between children and supervised parents, or exchanges of children between parents, have to be supervised for a given time.
Our Supervised Access Program stands out among similar agencies because:
1. Our program is run by a Master's Degree Counsellor who is specialized in addressing attachment difficulties and in coaching parents to monitor emotional and behavioural issues of their children.
2. We are child-focused. The safety and well-being of children is our paramount goal and motivation.
3. We have at lest 3 staff involved with each family (Supervisor, Case Manager and Reports Manager) to ensure high professionalism and impartiality when we are serving vulnerable children and their families through the difficulties of separation and divorce.
4. We provide ongoing professional development and monitoring of all our supervisors.
5. We require our supervisors to undergo "Criminal Record Check for the Vulnerable Sector", to protect the safety of the children and families we serve.
6. Our professional Case Managers provide friendly customer service for parents who are unhappy with the supervision process.
7. Our Reports Managers read every report for grammar and clarity before the reports are sent. This is important for a multicultural team with many professionals whose English is a second language.
8. We can provide additional SPECIAL SUPERVISION SERVICES to enhance existing parental skills and to support children who experience anxiety, anger or parental alienation.
9. We can provide EVALUATING REPORTS and RECOMMENDATIONS for court, at lower fees.
10. Given our Case Managers' customer service work, our supervisors remain unbiased and reliable witnesses for court when parents need to call on them.
HOW SUPERVISION WORKS:
When child protection services are involved, the visits and exchanges can be organized (and paid for) by the goverment, through their own contracted Supervision agencies. Such government-paid services in BC are however out of reach for parents whose children are in foster care. Those contracted agencies do not accept self-referral from parents ourside of MCFD. Thus parents whose children are not in foster care, end up having to hire private supervision agencies for their parenting time (if such a condition is imposed on them).
Usually supervision is required after a supervision order or legal agreement was made that one or both parents can not be alone with the children during their parenting time. At the same time, the residential parent/caregiver (who resides with the children) may have more or less power to make the rules about various aspects of supervision during such parenting time.
There are also cases of separated parents with no protection concerns, who use supervison services for their parenting time. This is when the parents negotiate doing a number of professionally supervised visits in order to help the children gradually build a bond with their non-residential parent.
As an access supervision agency, we are responsible to protect the wellbeing and interests of children during the alocated parenting time. We are also responsible to make sure that the supervision conditions (set by court, protection authorities, or residential parent) are respected in all details during the parent's visit with the children.
There are basic supervision rules that can not be broken (even if there are no protection concerns for the parent). For instance, the parent and children must remain in Supervisor's sight and hearing distance at all times during supervised visits. It is important for the supervised parent to cooperate with this rule, as the supervisor is also the best witness in case of allegations made against him/her. Another basic rule is that the supervised parent and extened family can not speak a language that is not known to the supervisor. The supervised parent is not allowed to make negative statements about the residential parent, or to talk about court, custody, family conflict, etc.
There are also specific supervision rules, which only apply to that unique family's situation. These rules might be temporary or permanent for that parent, or they may gradually change over time. In either case, the supervisor will always enforce the current rules until the parents (or their counsel) reach a new agreement about those issues. In this category of rules there may be conditions imposed regarding location, time, duration or frequency of visits. Other rules may be about who can attend the visits, what kind of activites or subjects are prohibited, what kind of foods must be excluded due to children's allergies, etc.
If the parents disagree about the specific supervision rules made for their case, the Supervisor does not have authority to impose one parent's wish on the other parent, or viceversa. Disagreements must be resolved through parents' negotiation with each other - either directly or through their legal counsel. In some situations the disagreements betwen parents are only settled after significant court process and great expense. The only thing a supervisor can do in case of disagreements is to keep the visits in the more restricted boundaries (so that parenting time is not lost), until the parents can settle the matter through their lawyers or through court.
The supervisor keeps notes about everything that happens during the supervised exchanges and visits, both good and bad. Such notes are kept on all parties involved during supervision, including the residential parent who drops off and picks up the children. These notes then become an official summary report which we email to both parents, and they forward it to their counsel. Social workers, lawyers of both parents as well as the judge will request such summary reports in order to amend supervision conditions, and to decide about extending or rescinding the supervision order or agreement. The summary reports may also be used in court to prove or disprove important matters for the parents and their children.
We take these supervision reports very seriously, because they can alter the entire life of the parents and children we supervise. For that reason our supervisors are required to be very thorough, clear and factual in their summary reports. We let the appropriate authorities interpret or judge the significance of each fact, and what to do about it.
Supervised Visits are meant to ensure the children are safe while visiting with their non-residential parents. Sometimes the supervision order is in place because the parent has substance abuse issues, or because there was conflict and violence towards the other parent or the children. Other times supervised access is used just preventively, while allegations of abuse are being investigated.
Our trained staff will ensure that the children are safe and comfortable during the visit. We encourage positive interaction betwen children and parents and refrain from interfering in their parenting time - as long as everything is all right. However, our child-focused staff will interrupt any inappropriate behaviour or discussions, and will record such details in the report.
Supervised Exchange is used when parents are uncomfortable with (or prohibited by court from) coming in contact with each other - although no supervision is necessary during the visit itself. Sometimes supervised exchanges are ordered by court to protect the children from severe ongoing conflict between the parents whenever they meet. During supervised exchanges, our staff will pick up the children from one parent's car, and will walk/carry them over to the other parent's car. This can be in the same parking lot, with parents parked on different sides of the building. The staff will also communicate any child-related information between the parents, such as health and behavioural concerns, medication, etc. - which is usually done through a communication book.
We have a thorough intake process, when supervision rules/conditions are explained and the needs of the children (e.g. health issues, allergies, emotional state, preferences) are taken into consideration. The court order and/or list of conditions must be confirmed with the agency and both parents, making sure that everyone is on the same page. Our staff will ensure that all conditions are respected and the needs of the children are met.
COVID Update: Currently we prefer doing visits in parents' home or in parks (as weather permits). This way the families we serve as well as our supervisors are more protected from the virus.
Our Supervised Visitation & Exchange Services are available in Metro-Vancouver and Fraser Valley areas of BC Canada, including: Squamish, Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, Delta, Ladner, Tsawwassen, Tricities, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey, Langley, White Rock, Aldergrove, Maple Ridge, Mission, Abbotsford, Chilliwack.. Other locations can be accomodated if necessary.
Our trained staff can supervise visits in parent's home or in public places like malls, parks, community centres, libraries, McDonalds, Go-Bananas, Chuck-E-Cheese, Funky Monkey, Play Abby, etc. As weather permits and all parties are agreable, water park and pool visits are also possible. We are also in the process of opening a supervised visitation facility in the Fleetwood area of Surrey, BC.
If we don't already provide visitation/exchnge servce in your area, we can likely set it up within a short time.
Our large and multicultural team of professional supervisors (20+ and still counting) can cover many locally spoken ethnic languages, including: English, French, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Persian/Farsi, Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese), Korean, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian.
Visitation and exchange services can be very costly (usually $50-$75/hour), which often limits the number of hours per visit and the frequency of visits that children get to spend with their non-residential parent. Some agencies post a lower charge per hour of supervised visit, but then apply additional fees (for the report, supervisor's travel time to visit location, GST), or they double the fee if the visit involves two children.
We prefer to include the report in a flat hourly fee, which looks a little higher than other agencies but in fact makes it more affordable to parents. We don't charge for short distance travel by supervisor, and we don't add GST.
Some limited sliding scale options (through affiliation with a non-profit society) may be possible in low-income situations, when we only train and oversee volunteer supervisors. Such volunteer supervisors must be found by the supervised parent and approved by the residential parent. This is very hard to accomplish and only rarely can be done.
In most cases the supervised parent is made responsible by court order (or by voluntary agreement) to pay for the supervision services. Occasionally the supervised parent and the residential parent split the cost of supervision. Only rarely we see the residential parent paying for supervision.
Our regular prices are listed below. All fees must be paid in advance for each visit/exchange, and are not refundable (1) if no show, (2) if less than a 24 hour cancellation notice, or (3) if the supervisor has to terminate the visit early (e.g. when the parent is not complying with the supervision rules). After 2 cancellations when the visits haven't been rescheduled, we will request payment one week before each scheduled visit, and the fee will not be refundable.
- INTAKE: There is no charge if the parents are cooperating with each other and the visits can be scheduled within the 20 minutes of our usual process of setting up new supervision cases. However, a charge of $60/hour is applied if the intake and scheduling process requires multiple calls, texts and emails (going back and forth between parents and their counsel) in order to define the visitation schedule and conditions. If the parents want an in-person Intake Meeting it can be done during part of the first scheduled visit without any extra charge. However, if the parents want to have an in-person Intake Meeting outside the scheduled visits, a charge of $90/hour is required due to Supervisor having to drive and meet for a session sorter than 2 hours.
- SUPERVISED EXCHANGES: $60/exchange (including report), if the exchange and Supervisor's round trip is about an hour. Price may be lower or higher, depending on distance and additional services required by each case.
- SUPERVISED VISITS: $60/hour including a sumary report, if the visit location requires only 10 min. driving for the supervisor. Further distances will apply additional time cost at the same rate, but we will not add any gas charges. If any outing during supervised visits incurs costs (e.g. bus fare, activity fees or movie tickets) for the supervisor, such costs must be paid by the supervised party.
All our REGULAR SUPERVISION SERVICES described above are
now provided through our corporation, Access Family Services Inc.
Please go to www.accessfamily.ca.
Design Care continues to provide SPECIAL SUPERVISION SERVICES:
- CASE MANAGER REPORTS ($300-$900) written by our highly qualified counsellors who provided the case management for the family while receiving supervision services from our agency.
- EVALUATING REPORTS ($1,000-3,000) focusing one or more issues like: attachment, safety of children, family interaction and environment, parental abilities, etc. Recommendations for the safety, wellbeing and best interest of children, as well as recommendations for addressing parents' issues can also be provided with this report.
- COURT APPEARANCE: Only with subpoena, at $100/ hour.
- SUPPORTED VISITATION ($90/hour). The supervisor is a licensed counsellor and during the supervised parenting time provides assistance to the children (e.g. to overcome separation anxiety, to build a bond with an unknown parent) or to the parents (e.g. developing parental skills or learning how to parent a child with special needs)
- THERAPEUTIC VISITATION ($120/hour). The supervisor is a licensed counsellor and provides therapy to the parents and children during the supervised visit (e.g. to overcome alienation).
- ATTACHMENT COACHING or FAMILY REUNIFICATION ($120/hour). This service is sometimes required (and may be court-ordered) when children are severely alienated, have attachment difficulties or exhibit severe behavioural issues around the non-residential parent. We address children's attachment and related issues by helping the parents understand the chldren's needs and behaviours, and by coaching the parents to provide specific thrapeutic parenting for their children. The intervention is even more efficient when both parents participate, although separated or divorced. Our attachment coaching service is provided by a Mster's degree counsellor, following Dr. Gordon Neufeld's attachment theory and applications.