The work of professional supervised visitation monitors is challenging and often filled with conflict, tension, and the potential for danger. The work is also rewarding, and critical to maintaining peace in the families and communities served by the professionals who choose this career.
Guidelines for the provision of services vary from state to state and country to country, including the guidelines for the training of the professionals. High quality initial training and continuing education, are important for the professional and the families, courts and larger communities served.
Supervised visitation is contact between a non-custodial parent and his or her child/ren in the presence of a third party who observes the visit and ensures the child’s safety. In Family Court cases, particularly those involving domestic violence, visits voluntarily supervised by friends and family in a their homes can be fraught with danger for the child and victim, as well as the monitor. For this reason, visitation supervised by a neutral, professional third party, with the capacity to enforce effective safety measures, is the optimal choice for the court and for custodial parents. In most communities, these services are provided by social service agencies, victim service and child welfare organizations both private and governmental, and private individuals. The service delivery can range from one-on-one supervision with a monitor continuously near enough to hear and see 100% of the parent/child interaction, to visits in large rooms supervised by several monitors.
In California, there are 3 categories of provider identified in the Standards detailed in California Rules of court 5.20. Some Family Court cases use private professional monitors who provide services in public locations throughout the community as well as in the home of the non-custodial parent and his or her family/friends. Some Family Court cases use agency-based professional monitors for visitation where each visit begins and ends in a safe and secure agency setting where contact can be prevented between the parents and their respective family members and friends before, during and after the visit. The agency setting is particularly helpful in cases involving domestic violence or abduction concerns that pose safety risks for the children and/or the custodial parent, as all visits can be conducted inside a private family visitation room inside the secure facility.
Standard 5.20 does not apply to the provision of supervised exchanges but it is recommended that the same guidelines are followed.