Supervised Access Update From the Information & Referral Coordinator (IRC)
By Hayley MacPhail
As the Information and Referral Coordinator we hear many stories of parents who have not been able to see their children due to the Covid-19 shutdown of supervised centres. After a year of no parenting time with their children, parents, the majority of them fathers, fear their absence will have long-term detrimental effects on their parental connection and their children’s well-being. Paternal Grandparents are also negatively impacted as they have not been able to see their grandchildren due to the loss of their son’s parenting time.
Supervised Access centres provide an important service for parents who wish to maintain not only a connection with their child but also a parental role in their child’s life.
These programs support parents to:
- improve their relationships with their children,
- enhance their ability to manage their child’s behaviour,
- assist with peaceful parental transitions,
- and promote safe parenting time for the access parent and some comfort for the non-access parent.
For children who have been exposed to parental conflict, supervised access can reduce their stress and worry during exchanges between their parents and/or concerns of care and safety by the supervised parent.
How to use supervised access:
Referrals are made by judges and lawyers. Self-represented parents may be accepted if both parents provide a court order or separation agreement specifying the terms and conditions for supervised visits or exchanges. Each parent must attend an intake interview separately, to complete the required forms and to discuss their suitability.
What do you need to bring to an intake meeting?
- Complete residential address, home, business and cellular telephone numbers.
- A recent photograph / photo ID.
- Name, address and telephone number of lawyer.
- Name, address and telephone numbers of all emergency contact persons.
- Proof of income (only if applying for reduced fees). In addition, custodial parents are required to bring the following:
- A recent photo of the child.
- Name, address and telephone number of the child’s doctor.
- The child’s health card
Here is an update on the status of GTA supervised access options for parents:
APCO: APCO is the only government-funded supervised access service, and it is free to parents.
As of March 28th, Access for Parents (APCO) has two in-person centres open, the locations are:
- Sheppard and Yonge
- Don Mills and Eglinton
At present APCO is reviewing their waitlist and planning to open up more in-person centres.
Virtual access and Emergency virtual access is available for parents during the weekdays only, and at present they are busy. If parents want to use their service, they need to complete phone intakes and then they will be added to the waitlist.
This is a link to their website: http://www.accessforparentsandchildren.on.ca/
As of April 1st, Side-by-Side will only be operating in Durham region, services such as in-home, community and virtual supervised access services. Shortly after our discussion it was announced that the province will be in lockdown for 28 days. Please check in with this service for changes,
This is a link to their website: http://sidebysideservices.ca/
With the announcement as of April 1st, Brayden Access service announced that the “Province Wide Emergency Break” for the next 28 days will not affect transfers and in-home visits. Brayden is not offering supervised visits in the community. For those parents who relied on parks and libraries for their supervised access and are unable to set up a visit in homes of family or friends their only option is to book a virtual visit. Brayden is a private service, and at present for those who can afford to pay for the service there is availability.
Please continue to monitor their available services.
This is a link to their website: http://www.braydensupervision.com/index.html
Renew Supervised Access:
Offering supervised access visits in the home, community and by Zoom. At present there is no waitlist. In-person visits are limited to only the parent and anyone not living in the home are not to attend the visit. Staff are socially distancing and wear PPE while staying within ear shot and visible during in home visits. The service is available in the GTA, northern boundary is Barrie, east to Oshawa and western boundary is Milton.
Social Enterprise Supervised Access Program:
Serving Peel and York region. Sponsored by the Ontario Government, this service is available virtually only at this time. The cost of a 20-minute session is $25, extra time can be arranged for an extra fee. Fee subsidy is available for qualified clients. Participants are provided a full orientation and a pre-check before each session. It is required to preregister device and video transmission location. Participants that have an open investigation with Children’s Aid Society, communication restrictions or charged with a sexual offence and sexual assault.
This is a link to their website: http://www.socialenterprise.ca/supervised-access-services
Thrive Counselling and Supervised Access program:
Serving Peel and York region, the supervised access is available virtually and by phone.
This is a link to their website: https://thrivecounselling.org/
Durham Supervised Access Centre:
Services are not available at this time, however they request that you check in with them as restrictions are changed.
This is a link to their website: https://durham.cioc.ca
905-619-4565 ext. 305 or ext. 318
Hayley MacPhail works as an IRC in Toronto’s family courts. You can reach her and other IRCs at 416-593-5393 or firstname.lastname@example.org.