A Bridge to your Family's Future

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is supervised access?

Our supervised access service provides a safe, child-focused and neutral setting where visits and exchanges can take place under the supervision of trained staff and volunteers.

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

What is a supervised exchange?

A supervised exchange is the supervised transfer (pick-up and return) of a child between the custodial parent to the visiting parent. The actual visit is not supervised.

What are the objectives of our supervised access centres?

  • To provide a safe, neutral, and child-focused setting for a child to be exchanged between the custodial and visiting parent or for visits between a child and the visiting parent

  • 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

Who provides funding for our services?

Our supervised access services are funded by the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario and provided by Social Enterprise for Canada, a registered community-based not-for-profit charitable organization. Annual administrative fees and per visit fees help to pay for service delivery costs.

Who supervises visits and exchanges at our Centres?

Visits and exchanges are supervised by our well-trained site observers.

What makes a client eligible for service?

  • Having a court order or an agreement signed by both parents

  • Paying the program fees

  • Agreeing and complying with the policies and procedures established by the Access Centre

  • Having your case approved by the Supervised Access Centre

  • Having available space and resources at the Supervised Access Centre

  • For more details on eligibility, please click here.

How long can I as a client use the access program?

You may use the program for as long as you need our services and until your child turns 18 years of age. Access visits are subject to court orders; in many cases, judges expect the service only to be used temporarily.

Do our access centres ever decline a case?

Yes, our centres reserve the right to decline or refuse cases, cancel or terminate visits if any of the following occurs:

  • Parents do not provide the required personal information or fail to sign the necessary documents

  • When the children are Crown Wards

  • When we conclude there are safety risks we cannot manage

  • A violation of the service agreement occurs

  • Parents decide to withdraw from our services for their own reasons

  • The visiting parent misses three consecutive visits or a pattern of inconsistent visits emerges

  • A parent arrives late for their visit or exchange

  • The visiting parent arrives under the influence of alcohol or another substance

  • A Children's Aid Society becomes involved in the case

What gives the access program authority to decline a case?

Section 34 (2) of the Children's Law Reform Act provides that when a court directs a person, a children's aid society or other body to supervise access, it is subject to that person's or body's consent.

What if I am a newcomer to Canada and cannot speak English or French?

We will provide for a professional interpreter to attend three visits.

We cannot pay for interpreters for additional visits. Cost for additional visits must be paid by one of the parents.

We can only supervise visits if the language used is English or a professional interpreter is present.

When scheduling visits, do centres follow the court order? If not, how do they decide how often and how long visits will be?

Orders should contain these provisions. If they do not, we will try to accommodate visits but are limited to a maximum duration of two hours per visit and the number of visits is subject to space availability.

What if the visiting parent moves farther from his or her assigned access center?

The parent can request a transfer to another one of our centres. This transfer would be subject to available space and the consent of both parents.

What are some of the common situations?

SEC has been providing Supervised Access Services for over 18 years. While we recognize and work diligently to address the concerns and/or issues of clients, the Supervised Access Program (SAP) services are limited by a clear mandate and the fact that the program must maintain the position of a neutral third party. We have no authority to enforce court orders and, as a service provider, we are not permitted to provide legal advice or mediate files, as these activities fall outside of our mandate.
In an attempt to assist you and decrease some of the frustrations you may encounter, here is a list of some common situations encountered and suggestions regarding the appropriate steps you can take to meet your goal.
A.     Why don’t you contact or chase the other party to quicken the Intake Process and/or resolving scheduling inquiries?
RESPONSE: We have no power or authority to enforce a court order or provide mediation. Also, efforts of contact can be construed as harassment.

SUGGESTION: If you are a parent or legal guardian who has completed all Intake Process steps, yet the other party has not, we suggest you speak to your lawyer or seek legal advice from your local Family Law Information Centre as we are unable to provide legal advice; only a court can enforce a court order.

Therefore, in situations where one party does not follow through and the participating party wants us to call or, in some way contact the other party, for the above reasons we cannot do that.

B.     I don’t have a court order or a signed agreement to use Supervised Access services. What do I do?
RESPONSE: In order to be eligible for service, a court order for Supervised Access or a Signed Agreement between both parties is necessary. We suggest you seek legal advice prior to completing a Signed Agreement.

C.     Why was additional documentation requested from my lawyer?
RESPONSE: Additional documentation or clarification information may be requested from you or your lawyer. This is necessary in order for us to determine whether or not a family is suitable for group setting service and to determine whether or not we can meet the needs of the family given our current resources and practices.

Our goal is to provide appropriate support in a beneficial manner to reduce potential issues or barriers to service and/or to develop a plan of support for the family. We do our best to ensure a safe environment for all participants.

Please note that due to confidentiality and privacy laws, as a service provider, we cannot access or pursue information on behalf of clients; therefore, it is the responsibility of the clients to obtain and provide us with necessary information.

1.     What if I don’t agree and don’t want to provide the information requested?
RESPONSE: As a client, you have the right to decide what information you provide. As a service provider, we will not be able to complete an Intake Process without the requested documentation and therefore will not be able to provide service.

D.     I just found out that I can’t use the program. Why am I not eligible to use the program?
RESPONSE: While we strive to provide services to families in need, we may not have suitable resource to adequately meet the needs of every family. In such cases, you will be notified and may then need to return to court or seek legal advice regarding the exploration of alternative services.
          This could include but is not limited to:
•     Open/active Children’s Aid Society (CAS) cases
•     Child refusal
•     Client refusal to provide requested information/documentation
•     Lack of cooperation
•     Inability to follow direction
•     Past termination or refusal of service by a similar service provider

E.     I am the Custodial Parent and I would like to wait on site while a visit takes place. Is this allowed?
RESPONSE: Since there are not waiting rooms available in which Custodial Parents could remain on site in a safe manner, they must leave the premises during visits.

F.     If there is some court documentation that allows for Supervised Access but other court documentation that does not, resulting in the prevention of utilizing our services, the client will need to return to court to have the appropriate documentation varied.
i.e. It is possible that a restraining order, peace bond, probation order or bail order to restrict a client from direct or indirect contact with the child/ren involved and/or restricts them from attending facilities where youth are known to attend.

This condition would have to be varied to allow for Supervised Access services. Our program does not have the legal authority to complete such a task; legal counsel or the Family Law Information Centre should be addressed regarding the completion of this task.

G.     What is to be done when there is a guest or third party to attend with the child/ren?
RESPONSE: When there is a third party deemed necessary by court order or suggested by the Coordinator to attend the visit with the child/ren, the Program Coordinator must ensure that the 3rd party is supportive of the visits between the child/ren) and the visiting parent. Both parents/parties must understand that the 3rd party must behave and manage themselves according to the standards of the program while on site. This means that third parties need to adhere to the instruction of the staff regarding how many visits to attend, where to orient themselves during a visit and/or to step out of a room if requested to do so by staff, in order to observe the comfort level of the child/ren and so on.

H.     I think the wait times are too long.
RESPONSE: Although program staff make every effort to accommodate families in need of program services, demand for service at times can be so high that a wait list for service begins. Wait lists, however, may or may not be active at the time of Intake completion.

The duration of the Intake Process itself depends largely on the complexities of a file, on how quickly all necessary documentation is received on file, how well everyone cooperates and the accessibility of parties involved to complete Intake activities.

I.     My service was terminated and I don’t agree with that.
RESPONSE: If your service is terminated, you will be provided a letter from the Program Coordinator outlining the reasons for the termination of your service. If you do not agree with the reasons for service termination you are welcome to put your concerns in writing (please see Complaint Process for details).

J.     Why should I have to pay fees to see my child/ren?
RESPONSE: The Social Enterprise for Canada Supervised Access Program requires minimal fees for service in order to support the overall operation of the program.

K.     Why do staff check my bag when I go for a visit?
RESPONSE: Trained staff will check your bag when first entering the site to ensure that all items brought into the centre are appropriate and do not or cannot jeopardize the safety, confidentiality or best interests of clients and staff present.

L.     Why can’t I bring my digital camera or cell phone to visits?
RESPONSE: Digital cameras and cell phones are not allowed on site because use of these devices puts the confidentiality and privacy of all present on site at risk.