The Children's Minister is calling out for charities to fill the gap left by the sudden closure of a well-established centre for bringing together separated parents and their children.
Deputy Inna Gardiner has urged potential operators to come forward after Milli’s Separated Family Centre announced the closure of its child contact provision, which helped provide a safe environment for children of separated families to maintain a relationship with both parents for over two decades.
The family centre claimed that regulation introduced within the past two years had redefined the definitions of contact in a way that made it "impossible for us to do any work".
However, the Jersey Care Commission refuted the allegations, arguing that the new standards were "achievable and appropriate" and that all care providers were consulted before the changes were implemented.
Pictured: Children and Education Minister, Deputy Inna Gardiner.
In the wake of the closure, Deputy Gardiner (pictured) said she met the acting Children’s Commissioner, Andrea Le Saint, "to discuss this issue".
"Officers in CYPES have worked with the team at Milli’s and with Jersey Family Court Advisory Service.
"The child contact centre is a complex service which is vital to the families who use it. Discussions are still in the early stages, but I am keen to work together to ensure that families have access to a safe space where children and young people can spend time with their parents after a separation," she continued.
"I would urge any charities which have the facilities or ability to provide a similar service to get in contact with myself or with the department."
In a statement, the JCC said that, as a regulator, it ensured that it always acted with "proportionality and pragmatism".
"The Commission is fully committed to working with Milli's Separated Family Centre to support them in ensuring that they meet the requirements of registration, to ensure that they can continue to function.
"We have engaged with Milli’s at two face-to-face meetings throughout the year, and as a result they were invited to submit their feedback. The Commission took into full consideration the feedback received and as a result made numerous changes to the standards to support the local service. We have also invited Millis to meet again however this was declined for the time being."
Following questions from Express, a spokesperson for the family centre said such a meeting would have been "pointless" unless the Commission was able to rescind or retract the regulations.
"Realistically unless that is possible we see no way to continue to operate the contact centre.
"We plan to close the service on the date of the contact centre's 23rd anniversary, the 26th of March 2023, however our other services - including delivery of our Putting Children First course and parental support - will continue as normal.
"We are also looking at developing and introducing new services."
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