Safe and Meaningful Contact Guidelines

The Safe and Meaningful Contact Guidelines (SaMC) allow users to identify whether the contact system (child, carer and birth relative) is being supported to achieve safe and meaningful direct contact for the child. It can be used by practitioners to identify support needs or by legal decision makers to determine whether they have the information required to make trauma informed decisions related to the child’s contact arrangements. It can also be used as an educational tool to help birth relatives and caregivers (such as adopters, kinship carers, special guardians, and foster carers) understand the benefits and risks associated with what contact means to the child.

In order to recover from their disrupted early development children in care need help to feel safe with their new carers, to overcome trauma and grief and to develop their personal identity. While these needs are primarily addressed within the child’s care placement, the child’s process of recovery may be assisted by safe and meaningful contact with their birth parent. Central to the development of the guidelines is the understanding that appropriate support can be the difference between contact that risks re-traumatising the child and contact that aids the child’s recovery (e.g. Iyer et al, 2020). The Safe and Meaningful Contact Guidelines identify what level of support is likely to be required for contact to achieve various purposes of contact associated with the child’s developmental recovery.

For more information about the SaMC guidelines and the user guide please email Chris

In order that the SaMC Guidelines can be applied most effectively it is important that users undertake the online training on the development and use of the guidelines prior to use.

Iyer, P., Boddy, J., Hammelsbeck, R., and Lynch-Huggins, S. (2020). Contact following placement in care, adoption, or special guardianship: implications for children and young people’s well-being. Evidence review. London: Nuffield Family Justice Observatory.