Dr Ali Lakhani is a Post-Doctorate Fellow with Menzies Health Institute Queensland and Synapse and his research focuses on self-directed policy for persons with disability, integrated practice for early child development and care, and culturally appropriate research methods. He has over 4 years experience working within community based participatory research projects that focus on health promotion and education.
There are no set standards for child visitation. Child visitation generally requires that parents and children meet in a welfare or social service setting to interact while under supervision. Minimal research has explored the effectiveness of the approach and some research in the area has characterised the approach as ineffective in meeting the requirements of both children and parents. Further, limited research has explored the effectiveness of alternative forms of child visitation. One emerging alternative form of child visitation is visitation that takes place within a playgroup setting. Consequently, in this study five parents and a child protection worker were interviewed to ascertain their perspectives about their participation in a playgroup used for child visitation. Findings were populated into three themes including: socialisation for children and parents, learning opportunities for parents, and community resource access. Additionally, participants provided their opinions of how the approach differed from traditional visitation methods. It is apparent that child visitation through a playgroup setting may provide benefits for children and families which not experienced through traditional methods. It is important that research explores alternative methods as they may contribute towards child and parent reunification. Further research will also contribute to an evidence base to inform the playgroup approach.