In excess of 40 child contact centres have closed over the last year and a half, a charity has claimed.
Child contact centres provide a neutral venue in which children with parents who cannot agree on access can see their absent father or mother.
According to membership body the National Association for Child Contact Centres (NACC), there has been a 50 per cent fall in the number of parents using the facilities. They attribute this to fewer referrals from solicitors as increasing numbers of parents, not eligible for legal aid, represent themselves in court. Such parents are less likely to be aware of the child contact centre service.
As a result, they claim, a significant number of areas in England and Wales no have no contact centres at all – in particular the north of England and both south and west Wales.
The charity’s chief executive, Elizabeth Coe, said the much discussed cuts to legal aid in family law cases may prove “a false economy”, as the estimated cost family breakdown was as much as £49bn a year.
“…parents can apply to centres directly themselves.”
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