Children’s charity Barnardos is campaigning for more facilities nationwide for supervised access for children of different parents.
The senior charity official said they hear the same things “over and over” from these children regarding supervised access visits.
“What kids tell us is ‘Please listen to us. Please trust us,'” Stephanie White, assistant director of children’s services with Bernardos, said on RT Radio One.
Often for children of domestic abuse, court orders are issued for the non-resident parent who has a history of abusing the custodial parent. According to Ms. White, children rarely want to be involved in a court order.
“We’ve had situations where kids have told us they don’t want to spend time with an abusing parent and that’s extremely difficult.”
A woman, who spoke under condition of anonymity, was physically and mentally abused in a relationship and described how her child does not want to visit his father but has no choice.
She has a protection order from her ex-partner, but she has regular court-ordered supervised access to her child. She uses a supervised access service to facilitate this.
The woman described how the experience can be traumatic for her child and its effect on them for days after the visit.
“I had to tell[her kids]’Look, we have to go and see this guy you’re afraid of. Besides, I can’t go with you, and there’s going to be a woman you don’t know,'” she said. Explained.
“It’s a small child, and you can dress it up as you like, but if there’s fear in the child, it’s in the child.”
She explained that in the days following her arrival, her child suffers from nightmares because of the anxiety of visiting her father.
“Then after access, they are basically on the downer. If they were adults, I would say adult is depressed, it is almost like that,” she said.
“As painful as it is for the child, as it is something they will have to go through for years, it is terribly wrong.”
She wants the court to consider the child’s experience in deciding whether she should participate in these access programs.
The Justice Department is preparing to publish Ireland’s third strategy on domestic sexual and gender-based violence ahead of the Dell summer break.
One of the goals outlined is to recognize the voices of children who have a background in domestic violence and allow their voices to be heard.
In a domestic abuse case, the court may decide that an access order must be supervised, meaning another adult must be present to cause the visit.
However, it cannot be supervised by a parent who has custody due to the circumstances.
In Ireland, there is currently no public service system of child contact centres, which allow children of estranged parents a place to visit one or both of their parents, regardless of court order.
There are many community and voluntary services provided throughout the country. As well as private supervised access facilities.
However, these services are not regulated by the state and parents must pay for them.
The Men’s Networking Resource Center in Ballymun provides a facility for supervised access.
This voluntary service, run under a community employment scheme, is run by Ann Hyland, who said there is always a waiting list to access the facility.
“Most fathers who are looking for access to their children, leaving jobs they have, can only see their children on Saturdays or Sundays,” she said.
Ms Hyland explained how very few people across the country come from the east of the country to use the facility.
“Some of the blanks can be filled for a year or two, depending on what the family is like and the reason, as every story is different. Every family story is different, be it through addiction, domestic violence, gambling, they are right across the board. ,
Damien Peelo CEO of Treoir, the national federation of services for single parents and their children, said the lack of access centers is putting families at risk.
“Parents themselves are left to bring their own child and sit with their child during the supervised visit.”
“It’s completely unacceptable. And it’s not just a one-time occurrence. It’s happening regularly and frequently.”