Principle VI  states that visitation centers should work with the community collaborative to ensure that children and adult victims have meaningful access to services and should actively link individuals to those services.

The Supervised Visitation Program Philosophy and Perspective

For purposes of this document, advocacy[1] can be defined as working with children and adult victims to understand their circumstances and experiences of violence and abuse in order to provide accurate information about and referrals to available services that can best meet their individual needs. Advocacy includes linking children and adult victims to trained domestic violence service providers and other appropriate resources and supportive services.

An essential component of effective advocacy is having supportive community conditions, community-based intervention services, policies, and resources that centralize victim safety and hold batterers accountable. Because visitation centers are one of the few services that interact with each member of the family, they are in a unique position to identify the needs and gaps in visitation and exchange services, both for individuals and for the community at large.

Advocacy has been a longstanding role and function of most programs concerned with the safety of children and adult victims of domestic violence. Visitation and exchange services can supplement traditional victim services by offering supervised settings in which parent-child relationships can continue safely.

Visitation centers can serve as a gateway through which needed services can be more readily accessed by children and adult victims who may not be aware of additional services available in the community. However, it should be understood that visitation centers do not advocate for, or speak on behalf of, adult victims of domestic violence or serve as domestic violence advocates within the overall scope of the visitation center. Rather, visitation centers can work with the community collaborative to ensure that children and adult victims have direct access to trained domestic violence advocates and culturally appropriate resources available to assist them in securing a range of supportive services.

When visitation center staff take time to understand the issues that children and adult victims face, they can better provide accurate information about and referrals to resources. In addition, visitation center staff that have such understanding are also more equipped to provide appropriate referrals for parents who batter to address and change their battering behavior, to stop using violence, and to prevent further harm caused by domestic violence.

 


[1] As noted in Principle V, Community Collaboration, harmful or ineffective systemic responses identified by the visitation center and the individuals who use its services, domestic violence practitioners, the courts, and others, particularly those issues related to post-separation violence, can be addressed through the work of the community collaborative; in this way, the center’s advocacy efforts can expand beyond individuals and effect overall systems change.