'Impossible' regulations leads separated family centre to close its doors in Jersey

Separated parents struggle PA IMAGES
Jersey has one of the highest levels of family separation in Europe Credit: PA Images

A charity that provides a safe space for children of separated parents is to close its child contact centre.

Milli’s Separated Family Centre has been running for 23 years and is blaming new regulations brought in by the Jersey Care Commission.

In a statement, the community organisation said the new rules have made their services "impossible".

It reads: "The regulations enforce an operating structure upon us that effectively makes us a government service disrupting the separation and independence that is necessary for the operation of a child contact centre."

Jersey has one of the highest levels of family separation in Europe. The centre acts as a space where parents who have split up can meet with their child where there is no viable alternative.

It allows both parents to maintain a relationship with their child in the early stages of family breakdown. On its website, the organisation explains that you do not have to come into contact with your ex-partner but "as a parent, you do need to remember that every child has the right to a relationship with both parents and a contact centre can help."

The draft regulations were adapted from the standards that the National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC) uses for supervised contact, even though this isn't a service that the centre offers.

Milli’s claim the draft regulations "redefined the industry understood definitions of various types of contact to bring them all under the definition of supervised contact".

It states: "On its own this single issue surrounding the definitions of contact would have made it impossible for us to do any work. Fortunately upon pointing this out the Care Commission altered the wording however they did not agree, unlike the NACCC, that Supervised and Supported contact should require separate sets of standards and this would again make operating difficult for Milli’s."

The Jersey Care Commission have responded in a statement saying: "all of the providers of care were consulted prior to the implementation of the new standards and we have met with Milli’s to develop with them the standards they are required to meet, which we believe are achievable and appropriate.

"The new standards are required in supervised and supported centres.  Our priority in implementing standards for children's social care services is the safety and wellbeing of the children involved.  We will continue to work with Milli’s Separated Family Centre to support them in their understanding of the requirements and to ensure that they can continue to function."