Safe Contact and Exchanges
Handling exchanges with care can protect children from being exposed to further conflict and can help parents maintain healthier distance, preventing further instances of conflict.
How can I ensure we exchange our child/children safely?
- Only use your home if everyone feels safe and you are sure no conflicts will arise.
- If there are any concerns, use a neutral place such as picking children up from school, daycare, or other activities.
- If you will not be there for the exchange, make sure your children (and your co-parent) know when and who is picking them up.
- Exchanges are smoother when co-parents have an agreed upon list of people to pick up or drop off children when needed.
- Ask a third “neutral” person (who will not add to the conflict) to attend.
How can I best prepare my child/children for exchange times?
- Let your children know the plan well ahead of time. Make sure they can repeat the plan back to you.
- Check with them to make sure they have all of they will need for their time with their other parent.
- “Count downs” are helpful, especially for younger children.
- Be positive. Encourage children to enjoy their time with their other parent
The children want to see their other parent but I have concerns. What are my options?
There are ways for children to be in contact with other while ensuring the safety of the child/children comes first.
Some options may include:
- shorter periods of visitation time;
- with a safety plan in place for the children (an ability to contact their other parent, a family member or other trusted adult if they are worried about a parent’s behavior while in their care);
- contact is made in a safe space, such as:
- during structured activities for the children
- in public places
- in a family member’s home, such as a grandparent (monitored contact)
- through monitored phone calls/letters/messaging/video chats, etc.
- supervised or facilitated contact, provided by a professional or family member, friend, or other. Please note there may be a fee for the professional’s time.
- therapeutic facilitated contact – where unsupervised, monitored or supervised contact may not be possible as a starting point and a therapy – oriented approach is needed.
Parents usually do not like to be supervised when they are with their children, but children generally report that they would rather see their parent with a trusted helper present than not see that parent at all.
Predictability and following through by both parents/guardians (bringing children to the agreed upon place of exchange/contact, and attending for time with children) are key to helping make arrangements work.
Facilitated contact can also work in situations involving a parent’s anger management problem, or if counselling for each family member is also ongoing.
Who helps to support safe contact and exchanges?
The Winnipeg Children’s Access Agency (204) 284-4170 provides supervised visitation and exchanges in Winnipeg to families where there has been a history of family violence and for families with high levels of conflict. There is a fee for service. Where there are protection or no contact orders, etc. a variation needs to be completed before intake will start.
The agency has some ability to assist grandparent and family contact when there are higher levels of conflict.
In Brandon, contact the Brandon Access Exchange Service at (204) 729-8115.
Find social workers, therapists and psychologists through the following websites: