Coordinated Community Response Column

May is designated as Supervised Visitation Month, symbolized by an orange ribbon. Why orange? Orange is a bright color used to warn people to watch out and take notice. We want the world to see the orange ribbon and take notice of the thousands of children and families in need of this service.

Supervised Visitation centers exist to provide a safe haven for children during parental visitation/exchanges. With more than 300 centers in the U.S. and centers in Canada, Australia, South Africa and Japan, families can be assured of a neutral exchange or supervised visit just about anywhere.

Family Access Solutions (FAS) is a program of HELP of Door County, Inc. and provides supervised visitation and monitored exchanges. FAS provides space and opportunities for children and parents to interact in a safer and a more conflict-free environment. Supervisors and support staff are on hand to make sure visits and exchanges occur appropriately and in a more positive and relaxed atmosphere. What FAS does not do is make judgments of parenting. That is the responsibility (if needed) of the courts, the guardian ad litem, or Human Services.

Parents and children use our program for a variety of reasons. They might be court ordered due to custody issues; the parents might have restraining orders or a high-conflict relationship. This makes it difficult to find a way to exchange children where everyone is safe. A parent who is having difficulty getting access to their child might find the program a valuable alternative. This also protects the supervised parent from being accused of things that do not happen. Any time one parent is uncomfortable about what or how the other parent is seeing their child makes it worthwhile to see if the program would work for them.

The judicial/legal system is aware of how domestic abuse harms children. Statute 767.41(6) requires that if there has been domestic violence in a household that the perpetrator have supervised visitation until he/she has completed a certified batterers’ treatment program. Family Access Solutions makes it easier for parents to have access to their children.

Family Access Solutions belongs to the national Supervised Visitation Network (SVN) and is part of the Wisconsin Chapter. The FAS program is providing services in Brown and Door Counties. If sites are needed elsewhere, FAS can help locate other programs. If you feel you or someone you know could make use of this program, contact Family Access Solutions at 920.743.8819 or 920.495.2830 for information.

This article is brought to you in part by the Door County Coordinated Community Response (CCR) to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Teams and the Door County Elder and Adult-at-Risk Interdisciplinary Team.