We told you Friday about a murder suicide that occurred of Friday, during which, deputies said a father-in-law shot his son-in-law. It happened, investigators said, during a child custody exchange.
In the wake of that incident, agencies are making their safe, monitored child exchange programs known. On Wednesday, I spoke with one of those agencies.
“We recognized twenty years ago that there needs to be a safer space for exchanging children,” said Julie Haden, program director with YWCA Resolve Family Abuse Program.
Twenty years ago, the YWCA added a monitored child exchange program to the long list of programs that they offer.
Haden said, “What we do here, is we keep families safe when there are family tensions or different dynamics that arise.”
The goal of the program is to ensure that children don’t witness those issues. The exchanges can either be court ordered or self-referred.
This program is one of 17 that offer this service in the state. Not all are free of charge, but the YWCA’s is, Haden said.
One parent or guardian parks on one side of the building, the other, on the opposite side. A staff member picks up the child, signs them in, and then walks them to the other end of the building to meet that parent or guardian.
Haden: “We have cameras. Doors are locked. Every visitation and every exchange is facilitated by our staff. We know who is around. We know who is coming and going. We have a schedule of what’s going to happen. We always know what’s going on.”
Bottom line, Haden said, is that safety is paramount.
“People think that because they’re in public and they’re in a public space, that they’re safe,” she said. “That’s not always the case.”
Last year, the program facilitated nearly 1,700 safe, monitored exchanges for nearly 90 families and right now, there is no waiting list.
To learn more about the program, click here.