Monday, March 19, 2007

Visitation centers are tested and proven elsewhere

Readers' forum
Louisville Courier-Journal, March 14, 2007, pg. A10.

Safe visitation centers not an experiment
I would like to clarify information included in a Courier-Journal article about funding for the Boni Bill that described supervised visitation centers as "an untested idea" and "an experiment."This came as a surprise to many Jefferson County residents who developed supervised visitation services in Louisville nearly 11 years ago.

In 1996, Mary Lou Cambron of Jefferson County Family Court organized a Visitation Center Task Force whose purpose was to develop a cogent plan and strategies for safe and accessible visitation options for families and children.

In 1998, through a partnership with the University of Louisville, the first visitation center was opened with funding from the Cabinet for Families and Children, the Department of Social Insurance and the Division of Child Support Enforcement. The original Family Access Center evolved into what is currently known as the Visitation Center at Family Place.

The Visitation Center at Family Place is a component of the Louisville Metro Visitation and Exchange program. The program has been successfully operated by Louisville Metro Government with general fund and federal dollars from the Office on Violence Against Women since January 2004.

Current funding prohibits the Visitation Center at Family Place from serving families where the children have been removed, but from 1999-2003 a limited number of child welfare cases were conducted at the center.

I acknowledge that the legacy of supervised visitation centers in Kentucky is relatively short, but the idea of supervised visitation centers being used for child welfare cases is not uncharted territory in Louisville, the Commonwealth of Kentucky or anywhere else in the country.

Louisville Metro Office for Women
Louisville 40245

Cut 'a travesty'
The state Senate made a very bad decision to cut funding for the Boni Bill. One area you shouldn't play politics with is family services.

I have been a foster parent for eight years and have seen some very hard-working people in social services. The work they do for Kentucky's children is extraordinary.

Our social workers ... deserve better than what they are getting. For the state Senate to cut funding in a bill to protect social workers is a travesty.

Not only would this bill help social workers, but also and most important, it would help the kids placed in the state's care....

We need more social workers, with the growing case loads and the number of children coming into care.

The safety of the workers and children should have no price tag.

Mount Washington, Ky. 40047


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