A Brief History
The Supervised Access Program of the Ministry of Attorney General was created as a pilot project in 1992 with 14 sites across the province. The purpose of the program was to provide community-based services to meet the needs of families involved in custody and access disputes, providing a safe, neutral, child-focused setting for visits and exchanges. The program was well received by families and the community and became funded as a program in 1994. In 2000 government funding was provided for a province- wide expansion. Today there are Ministry of the Attorney General-funded programs in each court district in the province of Ontario. Service providers are non-profit, charitable organizations, including children's mental health centres, YWCA's and Child and Family Services created solely to provide supervised access services. Service is provided by a combination of trained paid staff and volunteers. Centre's record factual observations but do not make recommendations or give opinions. The Centre's cannot assess the family situation or determine if families continue to require service.
In dealing with the dissolution of marriage and common-law relationships, the courts maintain that in some cases it is in the best interest of the children to have contact with both parents. Many researchers have noted the negative effects of on-going conflict following the divorce and separation process, especially with children who are caught between their parents disputes. Centre staff work very hard to maintain a safe, neutral and child focused program. The fundamental principles of neutrality and safety are paramount in every activity, performed by staff and volunteers to ensure children are shielded from their parents disputes.
By providing children and parents with the opportunity for neutral and safe visits and exchanges, the supervised access program remains committed to those children and parents caught in conflict and needing a safe place to maintain relationships between the children and the non-residential parties.