Visitation Days: Local Centers Make Safe, Comfortable Environments

Parenting can be a complicated business. 

In Lucas County, nearly one third of children live in a single parent home. When a child lives with one parent, but needs supervised visits with another parent, it can be difficult to make arrangements that work for all parties involved. How can adults juggle schedules and swaps that will make the transition peaceful and beneficial to the child? 

Child visitation centers offer a safe place for non-custodial parents (and grandparents) to spend quality time with their children. The centers provide a comfortable setting for parent-child interactions in a carefully monitored environment. 

Children’s Rights Collaborative of NW Ohio 

Children’s Rights Collaborative was formed more than 20 years ago to provide a facility for supervised visitations. 

“Children’s Rights Collaborative believes that all children need a relationship with both parents if that relationship can be safe,” said Maggie Greer,Interim Executive Director. “Unfortunately, there are instances when a child should not be alone with the parent who caused harm.” 

When physical or emotional abuse has been involved, or when a separation has occurred for an extended period of time, CRC steps in. 

“We provide a service whereby children can visit with the non-residential parent in a safe, supervised or monitored setting,” Greer said. 

CRC offers supervised visits and monitored visits based on court orders. After an initial intake appointment, visits are placed on the calendar. Rooms are equipped with age-appropriate materials, such as toys and games for young children, and game tables and televisions with game systems for older children. 

“Supervised visits require a monitor to be with the visiting child 100 percent of the time. The child is never left alone. Monitored visits are set up so a child can visit with the parent, but we check on them only every 10 to 20 minutes. In our setting, each family has their own room to use for the visit and a gym to share with one other family at a time. Thu

s, children are able to see the non-residential parent and to build or maintain a relationship in a safe and healthy environment. Children andadults learn through play, and we encourage play to build the relationship that is so important to these families,” Greer said. 

CRC also offers supervised exchanges between custodial and non-custodial parents that provides a buffer space, allowing parents to avoidthe drama that sometimes occurs during the transition. This peaceful exchange benefits the children as well. 

“It is important for children to have a relationship with both parents if that relationship can be successful. The non-residential parents benefit because they can have a relationship with their children. And the residential parents truly benefit, too, because they know their children are able to see the other parent in a safe environment.” 

Village House of NW Ohio 

Since 1995, Village House of NW Ohio has been serving over 4,400 families in Sandusky County. 

“As the divorce rate and other complicated adult issues affecting children are significantly increasing, the need for our service has become more crucial than ever and is growing at an alarming rate,” said Sue Fuller, Executive Director.

Village House offers a comfortable setting for supervised visitations that have been referred by local courts, children’s services, or private referrals. Families may need the services for a variety of reasons that could include addictions, mental health issues, financial instability, and more. 

“Each situation that comes into Village House is unique and treated on an individual basis with respect, professionalism and confidentiality. We are a non-judgmental organization that does not investigate, evaluate or counsel the custodial parent or guardian, the non-custodial visiting parent or the child.” 

Village House aims to provide a sense of stability for children in difficult situations.

“Our main objective is to ensure the mental and physical safety of the child during their visits at the Village House. 

We strive to accomplish this by maintaining a completely neutral and welcoming environment for both the child and the visiting parent,” Fuller said. “We want all the parties that utilize our supervised visitation and exchange service to have a positive and heartwarming experience amidst all of the potential powerful emotions that are often associated with separation, divorce, and other traumatic family situations.”

When families benefit from the service, the community benefits as well. 

“We are here to truly make this place a ‘home away from home’ in the hopes that we can make a difference and have a positive impact in the lives of children who are forced to deal and function amidst adult issues by no fault of their own,” Fuller said.

Sound Mind Behavioral Wellness 

Since 2020, Sound Mind Behavioral Wellness LLC has been providing services to Toledo families that include mediation, co-parent education, and therapy groups along with visitation services. 

“Our agency has been open for three years with a focus on Therapeutic Family Reunification, individual, family, and group therapy,” said Winda Birt, case manager. “We have clinical psychologists and therapists on site. Our approach is holistic.”

After an initial consultation, the agency will create a family treatment plan and schedule services. 

Using an integrated approach, a team of licensed clinical psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, and qualified behavioral health specialists works with families and individuals with a goal of helping families who have experienced changes such as separation or divorce. 

Executive Director and Founder Elizabeth Williams hopes that this approach can dramatically improve family dynamics while fostering a positive environment for parent and child.