Safe Visitation Services
Families that have experienced domestic violence may see incidents of abuse escalate while going through a separation. During this time, it’s critical that children have an opportunity to maintain relationships with their non-custodial parent in a safe, protected environment.
The Family Centre’s safe visitation services help reduce possible exposure to abuse during visits by the non-custodial parent. Our trained staff members help children to have positive interactions and relationships with their parent by supporting attachment and appropriate play. Staff share information about child development, the impact of trauma, and setting healthy boundaries. Visitations are closely supervised in a comfortable environment.
We also connect families to other resources at The Family Centre and in the community to help them transition out of the program successfully after one year.
Who can attend?
Safe visitation services are open to any Edmonton family with safety concerns about child custody and visitation, resulting from previous and/or current family violence. Families may voluntarily apply or be referred to us through other community agencies and services, including mental health professionals, lawyers, judges, counsellors, police, probation officers, emergency shelters, hospital staff, and Child and Family Services.
These services qualify for court orders specifying “supervised visitation” or “supervised visits.” We do not provide court assessments or take sides during custody and access issues.
If you think you might benefit from safe visitation services, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you and your partner (the biological parents of your children) separated?
- Have there been incidents of family violence between you and your former partner?
- Are you concerned that the violence will either continue or escalate?
- Do you believe your children are at risk of harm or exposure to abuse without supervised visits?
- Do both parents voluntarily agree to safe visitation services?
If you answer yes to more than one question, please call us to find out more.
How do families start using the services?
Once you have called to give your consent to begin safe visitation services, we will inform the other parent. We can only do this if you provide us with the correct, current contact information; we will not track down your former partner.
We will determine a weekly visitation schedule that works for both parents. Visits are scheduled to prevent contact between the parents.
How does the program work?
We stagger arrival and departure times to ensure absolutely no contact between the parents. It is important that both parents come and leave at the designated times.
Our staff help facilitate a conflict-free visit by being neutral, supportive, and non-judgemental. Our two safe visitation rooms look much like play rooms; there are toys, games, and comfortable seating. Visits last 1.5 hours, and a staff member is present the entire time. Another staff member is available on site as well. No additional family members are permitted to attend the visit.
Children are not forced to attend visitations; however, we will make every effort to facilitate a positive and safe visit between them and their visiting parent. Staff will intervene in cases where the emotional and/or physical well-being of the child or parent is at risk.
When and where is it offered?
- All visits take place at The Family Centre.
- Safe visitation services operate Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Supported visits are scheduled for 1.5 hours once per week for up to a year, but we evaluate each situation on an ongoing basis.
- We will prioritize families at the greatest risk for future violence.
- If a child continues to refuse the visitation after we make every effort to make them feel safe, we may terminate the service.
How can I find out more?
Please contact the safe visitation services supervisor at:
How much does it cost?
There is no cost to participating families.