Q. Why do my visits /exchanges need to be supervised?
A. Supervision in the case of parental separation:
When parents separate, the children most often will have primary residence with one parent and regularly spend time with the other. Visitation, contact, and access are words used to refer to post separation contact with the non-residential parent or another significant person, such as a grandparent, sibling, or other relative. When the courts feel it is appropriate, they may order that such visitation take place in the presence of a third party.
Monitored exchanges may be court ordered or arranged by the parent and are generally appropriate when there is no question about the safety of the child but when one or both parents do not feel safe or comfortable interacting directly with the other. It is always better for the child to not be put into a situation where he/she is exposed to the anger and conflict of the parents.
A. Supervision in the case of out-of-home placement:
When a child comes under the jurisdiction of child protective services and is removed from the home because of a risk of child abuse or neglect, it is usually important that the parent/child relationship continue. Child Protective Services generally provide these services while the child is in their custody. However, once the child is placed in the temporary or legal custody of a relative or third party the court and/or child protective services will likely defer this service to outside supervised visitation programs to provide visitation services.
Q. Where will my supervised visits occur?
A. The location of the visit will be in the least restrictive setting that is consistent with the goals of the case plan and/or court order. Visitation in the home of the parent (parents) shall be considered least restrictive. Visitation at the agency is considered more restrictive. The location should provide a safe setting for the child but should also be in an area or environment where the parent and child are going to feel comfortable. Visits may occur in a family visitation room or outside in play area at the agency, or at a public place within the community, as well as inside a parent’s or relative’s home.
Please see Our Facilities for more information.
Q. How often will my supervised visits occur?
A. The frequency of the visits will be based on: the attitudes and feelings between the child and parent or guardian in the present relationship and with other family members; the abilities and willingness of the parents in attempting to resolve differences; and, what is determined to be in the child’s best interests, and is conducive to his/her physical and emotional well-being, and/or as ordered by the Court.
Q. What are the benefits of utilizing Visitation Services?
A. Both Supervised Visits and Monitored Exchanges are designed to assure that a child can have safe contact with an absent parent without having to be put in the middle of the parents’ conflicts or other problems. It is the child’s best interest that is paramount in making any decisions regarding the need for supervised visitation. However, there are also some significant benefits to parents. It is our hope that no one will look upon supervised visitation or exchange as a negative or stigmatized service. It is a tool that can help families as they go through difficult and/or transitional times. Some of the benefits for those involved are as follows:
For the children:
- It allows the children to maintain a relationship with both of their parents, something that is generally found to be an important factor in the positive adjustment to family dissolution.
- It allows them to anticipate the visits without stress of worrying about what is going to happen and to enjoy them in a safe, comfortable environment without having to be put in the middle of their parents’ conflict and/or other problems.
For the custodial parents:
- You do not have to communicate or have contact with a person with whom you are in conflict or by whom you might be frightened or intimidated. The arrangements can be made by a neutral party (the visit supervisor) and there does not have to be contact before, during, or after the visits.
- You can relax and feel comfortable allowing your child to have contact with the other parent-and can get some valuable time to yourself.
For the non-custodial parents:
- You can be sure that your contact with your children does not have to be interrupted regardless of any personal or interpersonal problems you may be having.
- If allegations have been made against you, which is often the case when supervision is ordered, you can visit without fear of any new accusations because there is someone present who can verify what happened during your time together. When using a professional service, you can also be assured that the supervisors are neutral and objective.
For the courts:
- It provides an opportunity for the children to maintain contact with both parents until the court can make a final decision regarding custody and parenting time.
- It provides input and documentation of parent/child interaction to assist the court in making parental custody and access decisions.
Q. Why not use a friend or relative rather than a professional service, particularly when there is a fee involved?
A. Often there is nothing to prohibit you from using a “non-professional” relative, friend, or acquaintance. Many court orders will allow that as an option provided both parents can agree on who to use. That often does not work out for the following reasons:
First and foremost is the difficulty in finding someone on whom you both agree. If you are having sufficient conflict that supervision was deemed necessary, then chances are very slim you will be able to find an individual that both of you will trust and feel comfortable with. Secondly, it puts a real strain on friendships. Many well-meaning friends and relatives will agree to provide the service but will quickly tire of the regular commitment and/or being in the middle of your conflicts. It is difficult for friends and relatives to refrain from taking sides. Once neutrality is lost, then the credibility of the “supervisor” will come into question and much of the feeling of security and safety will be gone. And, finally, it may actually detract from the quality of the parent/child time together. It is often tempting to spend time interacting with the acquaintance rather than focusing on the child. Children may then come to resent the visits because they feel that they are secondary and not primary in the interaction.
Q. Who else is permitted to attend my supervised visits?
A. Unless otherwise restricted within the Court’s orders, CGFS policy allows for relatives and/or significant others to participate in up to half of the visits once the visiting parent / grandparent has established a consistent schedule and the child appears comfortable and is adjusting well to the visits, usually after the first three visits at the discretion of CGFS staff. All visitation participants will be subject to the same rules, expectations, and restrictions as the visiting parent / grandparent and may have their visitations suspended for violation of CGFS policies.
The custodial parents or adults dropping off / picking up children for supervised visits are not permitted to remain on the premises or within viewing distance of the supervised visit in order to avoid potential conflicts and to ensure privacy and facilitate a comfortable and relaxed environment for the visiting parent and child.
Q. How do I go about scheduling Supervised Visits?
A. The first step toward getting your visits scheduled with Common Ground Family Services, LLC is to request an intake appointment. The parent / grandparent who will be visiting as well as the custodial parent must each complete his/her own separate intake interview before visits can be scheduled. An intake appointment can be requested by calling Common Ground Family Services at 330-630-1868 or by clicking here.
Q. What does the Intake Interview involve and how long does it take?
A. The intake process takes about an hour to complete and involves reviewing agency policies and procedures, having parents sign necessary consent forms, touring the facility, and gathering necessary information from both parents in order to best meet the needs of the family.
Q. What should I bring with me to the Intake Interview?
A. You will need to bring a copy of the most recent court order pertaining to custody and visitation (if you have one) and verification of your annual household income in order for fees to be set using the sliding fee scale. You will also be asked for birth dates, social security numbers, and contact information about both parents and their attorneys, so you should bring any documents needed to answer these questions accurately.
Q. What if either parent is unable to keep a scheduled appointment for Supervised Visit?
A. Every effort will be made to accommodate both parents’ schedules when setting up visit dates and times. Once a visitation schedule has been established, it is important for the child’s sake that both parents are consistently prompt and present for each visit. If a need arises to cancel or reschedule a visit, it is expected that both parents will adhere to the agency’s 24 hour cancellation policy in order to avoid being charged for the entire visit. In the event that unforeseen circumstances arise that make it impossible to provide 24 hour advance notice, then parents should call as soon as possible prior to the visit and may need to provide documentation of their “emergency” upon request to avoid being charged.