‘We've all seen those sad dads in the Natural History Museum on a Sunday afternoon trying to keep up with their kids. But after a while dads begin to tire of McDonalds and the museum and the number of places you can go begins to dry up.’
Similarly on the face of it Contact Centres provide,
'A neutral meeting place where children of separated families may enjoy contact with one or both parents, and sometimes other family members, in a comfortable and safe environment when there is no visible alternative.'
For example the following table of 'Contact Needs' is taken from the manual used by the Portsmouth Child Contact Centre;
Birth - 18 months; Children need to remain more or less in the same place and frequent and predictable pattern is most suitable.
18 months - 3 years; Consistency and frequency required.
3 years - 6 years; Children in this age group benefit from highly predictable contact including telephone calls and cards. Some sleeping can be arranged gradually.
8 years - 10 years; Weekend visits work very well for this group.
10 years - 13 years; Gender differences emerge which may affect contact with the other parent.
14 + years; Flexibility. Adolescents who maintain good contact with parents often have variable patterns of visiting and staying.
In reality Contact Centres may only serve the Residential Parent undermining the child's relationship with the other parent. Unless the other parent is given the opportunity to relate to his or her child in a normal setting, for example sharing meals, going on outings, overnight stays, 'bonding' may be made impossible by Contact Centres.