Supervised Access

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Supervised Access Pamphlet (PDF - 48K)
Supervised Access Pamphlet   (RTF - 88KB)

What is supervised access?

When parents separate, access visits with children may be a problem. Sometimes, difficulties arise at the time of the exchange of the child between the parents, or between the parent and a relative, such as a grandparent. Other times, there may be concerns about the visits themselves.

The Supervised Access Program offers separated families a way to deal with some of these problems. Supervised access centres provide a setting where visits and exchanges can take place under the supervision of trained staff and volunteers.

Ministry-funded supervised access centres provide fully supervised on-site visits in a group setting and supervised exchanges when access occurs off-site.

What are the Objectives of Supervised Access?

  • To provide a safe, neutral and child-focused setting for visits between a child and non-custodial parent or other family member.
  • To ensure the safety of all participants, including staff.
  • To provide trained staff and volunteers who are sensitive to the needs of the child.
  • To provide reports of factual observations about the participants’ use of the service.

When might Supervised Visits Occur?

Supervised access centres address a number of different situations, which may arise in custody and access disputes. Supervised visits may be appropriate in cases where there are concerns about the safety of the child and/or the custodial parent; the non-custodial parent has a drug or alcohol problem or a mental health problem; there has been a lengthy separation between the parent and the child; or there is a risk of abduction.

When are Supervised Exchanges Appropriate?

When there is unresolved conflict between the parents, a neutral place to exchange children for visits makes access easier to arrange and reduces tension for the child. Supervised exchanges may also be appropriate when it is necessary to determine if the parent who is visiting with the child is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In other cases, there may be a concern about the safety of the custodial parent during the exchange.

How do I Apply for Supervised Access Services?

Referrals to the program can be self-made and/or are accepted from lawyers, mediators, the courts, mental health professionals and other agencies.

A court order for supervised access is preferred but not required. If there is no court order, the parents must have some other signed written agreement.

Each adult participant must complete an intake interview and agree to follow centre policies and procedures before using the service. All services are pre-arranged. Details will be worked out between both parties and the centre supervisor.

The program reserves the right to determine provision of service. Dates and times of access visits/exchanges are determined by the availability of staff and the facility. All referrals are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. If space is not available, you will be placed on a waiting list and contacted as soon as space becomes available.

Are there Costs Involved?

The Supervised Access Program is provided by non-profit organizations. Program user fees are usually shared between both parties unless otherwise stated in a court order. Fees are on a sliding scale or may be waived if a client is unable to pay. Reports can be prepared for the parties and legal counsel upon request at an additional fee. All fees will be reviewed at intake.
Fees are based on guidelines set by the ministry:

  • A maximum of $25.00 per visit or exchange OR an annual administration fee not to exceed $300/per family may be charged to participants of the program;
  • up to $250.00 for reports;
  • fees must be waived or negotiated at a lower rate for those who are unable to pay the full amount.

How do Supervised Access Centres ensure the Safety of Families, Staff and Volunteers?

Safety measures include, but are not limited to the following:

  • staggered drop off and pick up hours;
  • client arrival and departure supervised by staff and/or volunteers;
  • staff or volunteers must monitor children at all times during visits;
  • staff or volunteers arrange for parents to be escorted to their cars by police if there is a safety concern;
  • there is always staff available as back up to the volunteers;
  • develop and maintain a close liaison with the local police;
  • security checks of volunteers and staff are always conducted before employment; and
  • the outdoor play area, if there is one, is enclosed and directly attached to the premises.

Do Supervised Access Centres make Custody and Access Recommendations?

Supervised Access Centres do not make recommendations. They provide a place for visits and exchanges.  Factual observations provided by the supervised access centre may, however, provide information to guide an assessor in making recommendations to the court or may assist the court in making orders that are in the best interest of the child.

Do Supervised Access Centres provide Services other than Supervised Visits and Exchanges?

The staff and volunteers at the supervised access centres do not provide services such as counselling, mediation, therapy, or parent education.

Is there a Limit on the Period of Time a Family can use a Supervised Access Centre?

There is no limit on the period that a family may use the Centre.  In some cases, families require supervised access over a long, or unspecified, period of time (e.g., cases where mental health concerns or violence are issues).

Do Supervised Access Centres provide Service to Children who are in the Care of a Children’s Aid Society?

Supervised access centres funded by Ministry of the Attorney General supervise visits and exchanges in custody and access matters.

Children’s Aid Societies provide supervised access services to children who are in their care.

Are Supervised Access Services provided only by the Government Funded Centres?

Other supervised access arrangements exist in Ontario including private “for profit” centres and private individuals charging a fee for service.  These arrangements are not accountable to the provincial program.  Ministry funded supervised access centres sign an agreement with the ministry requiring them to meet specific criteria.

What should I consider when making arrangements for supervised access?

Situations requiring supervised access can be stressful for everyone involved. Orders and agreements can be created to set out the details of the access. These documents ensure everyone knows what to expect, and can help ensure the safety of both children and parents.

For more information see Information for Court Orders or Agreements and Suggested Wording for Orders or Agreements.

What do I do if I have a Concern about Supervised Access Services?

If you have a concern about supervised access services you should first speak to the supervised access centre directly.  Every centre and provider has a complaints process that you may use to make your concerns known. 

If you have questions about centre or Ministry complaints processes, contact the Supervised Access Program at 416-212-2028 or 1-877-661-9977.

How do I Contact the Centres?

View additional Supervised Access Centre contact information.

Algoma
(705) 945-5050 / 1-800-461-2237

Brant
(519) 751-0466

Cochrane
(705) 360-2100

Dufferin
(519) 941-1530

Durham
(905) 619-4565

Elgin
(519) 637-1667

Essex
(519) 971-0625

Frontenac/Lennox-Addington
(613) 542-8533

Grey/Bruce
(519) 371-5991

Haldimand-Norfolk
(519) 428-4838

Halton
(905) 637-5256

Hamilton-Wentworth
(905) 522-9922

Hastings/Prince Edward
(613) 968-7362

Huron/Perth
(519) 508-6101 / 1-888-508-6101

Kenora
(807) 223-8550 / 1-800-465-7203

Kent
(519) 355-1127

Lambton
(519) 336-0917

Lanark
(613) 284-1900 / 1-877-284-1947

Leeds-Grenville
(613) 345-6007 / 1-877-417-6007

Manitoulin
(705) 377-6080

Middlesex
(519) 858-9905

Niagara North/Niagara South
(905) 384-9551

Nipissing
(705) 472-0678

Ottawa-Carleton
(613) 725-3601

Oxford
(519) 533-1379

Parry Sound
(705) 386-0570 / 1 (800) 563-4201

Peel
(289) 470-5327 / 1-866-243-9925

Peterborough/Northumberland/Victoria-Haliburton
(705) 742-3803

Prescott-Russell
(613) 632-2333 / 1-877-632-2332

Rainy River
(807) 274-0381 / 1-800-465-7764

Renfrew
(613) 735-1093

Simcoe/Muskoka
(705) 526-1095

Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry
(613) 933-1253 / 1-888-426-9177

Sudbury
(705) 566-5866

Thunder Bay
(807) 343-5031

Timiskaming
(705) 567-9201 / 1-866-229-5437

Toronto
(416) 304-1221

Waterloo
(519) 743-1460 / 1-800-653-2256

Wellington
(519) 822-4141 / 1-866-321-4141

York
(289) 470-5309 / 1-866-243-9925

Further Information:

If you would like further information, more copies of this brochure, require information in a more accessible format or have any comments regarding the Supervised Access Program, please contact:

Supervised Access Program Manager
Ministry of the Attorney General
700 Bay Street, 3rd Floor
Box 171
Toronto, Ontario  M5G 1Z6
Tel: (416) 212-2028 / 1-877-661-9977
Fax: (416) 212-2032
Or visit our website:
www.ontario.ca/attorneygeneral

© Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2005
ISBN 0-7794-6200-9