40 Child Contact Centres Close In 18 Months

Centres Provide Lifeline For Children With Separated Parents


More than 40 Child Contact Centres, which help children to keep in touch with a non-residential parent in a neutral venue after separation, have been closed in the past 18 months according to a new report.

The National Association for Child Contact Centres (NACC) said the number of parents applying for help through the family courts has halved, blaming spending cuts in legal aid which has resulted in a lack of solicitor referrals.

Many litigants, representing themselves as a result of their being unable to fund a solicitor through legal aid, are unaware of the services Contact Centres provide and as such, referrals have fallen.

The closures mean that large areas in the north of England and south and west Wales have no centres at all. Some children in these areas are at heightened risk of losing contact with a parent, most typically their father, altogether.

"Given that family breakdown costs the country an estimated £49bn a year, family legal aid cuts may prove a false economy unless more is done to let families know that the contact centres are there to help, and parents can apply to centres directly themselves," said NACC chief executive Elizabeth Coe.