'Child-friendly' custody exchange aims to prevent conflict between parents

A new program on P.E.I. will facilitate custody exchanges between parents where face-to-face contact between the two might otherwise be a source of family conflict.

Move comes in response to inquest into deaths of P.E.I. boy and his mother

The locations will allow one parent to drop a child off, and for the child to be supervised until the second parent picks them up (Rafal Olechowski/Shutterstock)

A new program on P.E.I. will facilitate custody exchanges between parents where face-to-face contact between the two might otherwise be a source of family conflict.

The move, announced by Premier Wade MacLauchlan on Wednesday, is in response to one of 15 recommendations from the inquest into the death of four-year-old Nash Campbell and his mother Patricia Hennessey. The two died in a vehicle fire in St. Felix, near Tignish, in June 2013. It was ruled a murder-suicide.

The inquest jury heard that contact between Nash's parents when custody was exchanged was a frequent source of conflict.

10 centres across P.E.I.

MacLauchlan said the province is partnering with two groups — Chances Family Centres and PEI Family Resource Centres — to offer exchange and supervised access services at 10 different locations:

  • CHANCES Charlottetown
  • Cap Enfant Wellington (French-speaking service)
  • CHANCES Cornwall  
  • CHANCES O'Leary
  • CHANCES Stratford
  • Families First Resource Centre Montague
  • Family Place Summerside
  • Kids West Inc. Alberton
  • Main Street Family Resource Centre Souris
  • Mi'Kmaq Family Resource Center – Charlottetown (for First Nations families)

The province says services will also be available at satellite locations in Borden-Carleton, Kinkora and Kensington.

The locations will allow one parent to drop a child off, and for the child to be supervised until the second parent picks them up. The centres will also provide parents with supervised access to their children. MacLauchlan said in most cases this would be done in response to a court order, but services could also be provided to families by request.

Child 'first concern'

"When children are moving from one parent to another is a common occasion when there is strife or tension in the family relationship," MacLauchlan said. "So providing this site … with a child-friendly approach enables the child, which is really the first concern here, to have a better chance of not being a party to that kind of strife."

MacLauchlan said about 100 staff have received specialized training to provide the service, which will begin within the next two months.