In some child custody cases, visitation with a parent is required to be supervised. Supervised visitation requires that a third party be present during a parent's time with his/her children. This extra supervision may be ordered when unsupervised contact would seriously endanger the mental or physical well-being of the child. Another instance where supervision may be required is when the visiting parent has had little or no previous contact with the child. In both situations, the key reason for the supervision is to provide safe contact between the parent and the child.
Currently in Winnebago County when supervised visitation is required or agreed upon, there is no public agency available to provide that third party supervisor. As a result, parents are left either asking relatives or family friends to supervise the visits or alternatively paying between 20 to 60 dollars an hour for a private professional to supervise the visits.
In September 2012, Winnebago County was the recipient of the US Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women Safe Havens: Supervised Visitation & Safe Exchange Grant Program. The grant provides $400,000 to use to create a new supervised visitation facility. The County is working collaboratively with Remedies Renewing Lives, Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling, Children's Safe Harbor, and the 17th Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois to plan and implement this new program.
According to project coordinator, Heather Beaufils, Safe Haven is a three-year project. The first year is the development phase. In this stage the policies and logistics of the program are being developed. The next step is to implement the project, meaning opening Safe Haven as a supervised visitation facility. The final step is sustainability.
Once open, Safe Haven will provide safe supervised visitation of children. No fees will be charged for the supervised visitation services. Those eligible to use the services will be determined by trained Safe Haven staff members. To be eligible, the reason for the supervision must be child abuse in the context of domestic violence. While residents of Winnebago County will be given priority, residents of other counties will also be able to use Safe Haven's services.
For more information on supervised visitation, please feel free to contact The Law Office of Bradley R. Tengler in Rockford, IL at 815-981-4859 for a free consultation. Please note, the above does not constitute legal advice. Please discuss your specific rights with an attorney in your own jurisdiction.