The Administration of Children and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services was authorized by Congress to fund State Child Access Initiatives in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. According to this Act, the Access Program was created:
"...to establish and administer programs to support and facilitate non-custodial parents' access to and visitation of their children, by means of activities including mediation (both voluntary and mandatory), counseling, education, development of parenting plans, visitation enforcement (including monitoring, supervision and neutral drop-off and pickup), and development of guidelines for visitation and alternative custody arrangements..."
Ten million dollars is appropriated each year by Congress for these programs, with each state receiving a minimum of $100,000. States with larger populations are awarded an allotment according to a prescribed funding formula. By law, states are required to provide a minimum 10% match of the federal grant amount. This match requirement can be fulfilled via cash or in-kind contributions.
In 1996, state governors designated the state agency that would be responsible for administering the Access and Visitation Grant Program. To date, the majority of state access and visitation programs are managed by either the State Administrative Offices of the Court or State Child Support Enforcement Agencies. In NC, the Division of Social Services, Office of Court Based Programs, administers the federal grant. Currently, the NC Administrative Office of the Courts contracts with the Division of Social Services and receives a portion of the funds allocated to NC to maintain access and visitation programs in judicial districts where a unified family court has been established. Access and visitation coordinators are hired locally by the chief district court judge and work within the family court program under the leadership of a family court administrator.
Source: Child Access and Visitation Grants: State/Jurisdiction Profiles for FY 2008