Meck County Receives Grant For Safe Visitation Site

Mecklenburg County is the recipient of a $399,845 federal grant awarded by the Office of Violence AgainstWomen (OVW). The three-year grant is for a Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange (SVSE) Center that is expected to help 200 families dealing with domestic violence situations.
“This will allow children to have meaningful, safe contact with both parents and ensure that parents and children are not placed at unacceptable risk,”Marie White said. She is Women’s Commission division director for Mecklenburg County Community Support Services, the division is the lead for the initiative. The first year of the grant is for planning, and years two and three are for implementation. The OVW is part of the U.S. Justice Department.
Mecklenburg County will receive and administer the funds, and services will be operated by United Family Services, Inc. The center will be located at the Children and Family Services Center, 601 East 5thSt. in Charlotte.
“The project grew out of a shared community recognition that the lack of supervised visitation has increased the risk of domestic violence, curbed opportunities for children to have consistent visits with their non-custodial parent, and increased the anxiety of custodial and non-custodial parents and their children around visitation,” White said.Development and sustainability of an SVSE Center has been a priority of the Domestic Violence Advisory Board and of the Mecklenburg Domestic Violence Fatality Prevention and Protection Review Team. Some key milestones for the initiative include: • Develop and maintain an active Consulting Committee with representation from expert domestic violence providers, the courts, child advocates, the legal community and the Hispanic community to maximize the Center’s responsiveness to community needs.

• Reach out and build relationships with the Hispanic community, which is currently underserved, to ensure that SVSE needs are met.

• Up fit the designated space, test and implement protocols, train personnel to ensure that the custodial and non-custodial parents do not come into contact.

• Develop criteria for serving families, referral procedures, risk assessment instruments and policies and procedures that ensure safety for adult victims and children.

• Serve families in months 13 through 36, safely. Partner participants include: CSS Women’s Commission Division; United Family Services, Inc.; the 26th Judicial District Court; Legal Aid of North Carolina; Legal Services of Southern Piedmont; the Latin American Coalition; The Children and Family Services Center; the Council for Children’s Rights; Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.