Safe Harbour Supervised Visitation Center
“Until Safe Harbour was initiated, supervised visitation often came in the form of family or friends being pressed into service as supervisors for a meeting at McDonalds-- hardly the best venue for an extended visit. This arrangement also called for a trained, unbiased witness to the interactions between parent and child. The advent of Safe Harbour has allowed hundreds and even thousands of visits that are valuable to parents and children alike.” Judge Jim Locke, County Court at Law 2, Brazos County
||In 2006, the Brazos Valley region had over 2000 confirmed incidences of family violence. When parents and children are involved in high levels of conflict, the chances for the children to grow up into healthy adults are greatly diminished. Family conflict often leads to other dysfunctional parental behaviors. According to a study conducted by the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, the primary presenting problems as reported by child abusers were substance abuse (88%), poverty or economic strains (51%), lack of parental skills (39%), and cycle of domestic violence (27%). Citing recent statistics, 70% of domestic violence also results in child abuse and neglect. Children in such circumstances are frequently ordered to have supervised visits with a non-custodial parent when the court deems it necessary for their own protection.
“The program allows children of divorce to have relationships with both parents in a safe, friendly atmosphere; thereby preventing the damaging effects that divorce can have on children, especially when one parent is absent. It is vital that this program be continued for the benefit of these children.” Travis Bryan, III, Presiding Judge, 272nd District Court, Brazos County, Texas
Research shows that children will fair much better in life if they are able to be shielded from the parents’ conflicts and establish a relationship with their non-custodial parent. Safe Harbour provides a safe, child-friendly environment for children to visit with their non-custodial parent when family conflict results in court-ordered supervised visits, Rule 11 agreement, a mediation agreement, child protective services parenting plan or other court ordered services that have “improved parenting” as a requirement. In addition to supervised visitation services, Safe Harbour provides parenting education; assists in the development of shared parenting plans, and facilitates fathering support groups. Parents who come to Safe Harbour are parents who are separated, divorced or divorcing, in paternity disputes, or in situations of accusations or confirmed incidences of child abuse, drug/alcohol abuse, domestic violence, mental illness or other dysfunctional behaviors that are damaging to children and families. Project Unity’s Safe Harbour Supervised Visitation Center is the only supervised visitation center within a 90 mile radius in central Texas.
“This program has been a vital tool in our handling of family law cases. It provides the opportunity for children to visit their parents in a safe and non-threatening environment. Prior to this program’s existence, we had to rely on a patchwork system of visitation efforts that did not work well.” Steve Smith, District Judge, 361st Judicial District
Funding and Support:
Texas Attorney General’s Office
City of Bryan Community Development Block Grant
United Way of the Brazos Valley
B/CS Realtors Association