Every child has the right to have a relationship with both parents. In most cases, it is in the child’s best interests to develop and support these relationships. In some very rare cases, it may be determined that it is in the best interests of the child to have no contact with a parent. In other cases, it is determined that a child should have access to a parent, but only under the close supervision of an independent, neutral, third party.
The purpose of the court-based Supervised Access and Exchange Program is to provide a safe, neutral and child-focused setting in which supervised visits or exchanges may take place for specified periods of time and in appropriate cases. Safety is the top priority. Supervised access allows children to visit with their non-custodial parent under the supervision of trained community agency staff. Supervised exchange refers to the supervision of the drop-off/pick-up exchange of the child between the custodial and non-custodial parent, allowing the access to take place without the parents having to meet.
Referrals to the court-based Supervised Access and Exchange Program happen only through a court order. The Department of Justice considers supervised access and exchange to be a short term and transitional service for families. The service is generally limited to 20 hours per case. An extension of the service may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
A Supervised Access and Exchange Program has been operating in Halifax and Sydney for many years. The Nova Scotia Department of Justice is pleased to announce three new additional site locations where this service is being delivered: Kentville, Pictou, and Bridgewater. Efforts are actively underway to identify additional service providers in other communities as well so that this program can eventually be made available at all court sites in Nova Scotia.