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Safe Havens for Children Sponsored by the Presbyteries of Georgia in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services and with.

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Presentation on theme: "Safe Havens for Children Sponsored by the Presbyteries of Georgia in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services and with."— Presentation transcript:

1 Safe Havens for Children Sponsored by the Presbyteries of Georgia in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services and with Assistance from the Barton Clinic

2 What is Safe Havens?  A program to enable family visitation for children in foster care with the ultimate goal of reuniting families.

3 Georgia Presbytery Perspective  PCUSA has declared to be “Decade of the Child”  We have the facilities  We have the people  We have the love

4 Current Restraints on Increasing Supervised Visitation  Few visitation centers especially outside cities.  Caseworkers lack time to spend supervising visitation. (a) Caseworkers may not be most appropriate person to supervise visits.  Not enough money to hire contract providers to facilitate and supervise visits on a regular basis.  Inadequate space for family visitation. (a) Most DFCS offices do not have child friendly space for visitation.  Time for visitation is often set Monday – Friday 8-5 conflicting with parent’s normal work hours.

5 What Role Does DFCS Play?  Agrees to use Safe Havens Program for visitation.  Selects Families to use visitation center.  Interfaces with Juvenile Court.  Interfaces with parents and obtains approval from parents necessary for visitation center. (a) Visitation Release Form (b) Parent Rules  Arranges transportation for children to visitation site.

6 What Role Does the Church Play?  Provides Space Most churches have wonderful space for visitation playgrounds for little children, children’s Sunday school rooms with child size furniture, recreational rooms for teenagers.  Responsible for Liability Church’s liability insurance policy generally covers Safe Havens programs at no additional cost.  Solicits, Trains and Supervises Volunteers  Sets up visitation times  Receives DFCS Referral and Coordinates setting up of visitation schedule for each family and/or sibling group.  Reports results of visitation to DFCS (and/or Court)

7 Parent’s Role  Parents must agree to visitation at Safe Haven’s Center.  Parents must sign liability release.  Parents must sign documents agreeing to abide by following rules: (a) Parent must arrive promptly – if they arrive later than 15 minutes, the visit is cancelled (b) Parents cannot use alcohol or drugs 24 hours prior to the visit. (c) Parents cannot bring others to visit (unless DFCS approves in advance.) (d) No smoking, cursing, guns or knives. (e) Parent must bring picture ID to each visit. (f) Parent must not discuss custody situation or court with child. (g) No negative remarks about DFCS, foster parents or custodian. (h) All conversations with child must be audible and in English.

8 Visitation Timing  One evening per week starting at 6:00 or 6:30 p.m. or Saturday  Scheduled for 1.5 hours – allows for check in and out with 1 hour visit  Each family’s visit may be weekly or bi-monthly  Each family may be required, by the court, to have visits for 30 to 90 days with potential extensions

9 Volunteer Needs  Minimum of three people per week - One coordinator – 3 to 5 hours/week - One greeter for every 5 visits - One escort for every 8 visits – could be coordinator at first - One observer per visit  Suggest rotating once every four weeks  Total volunteers to begin one visit – 12 per year

10 PROGRAM COORDINATOR DUTIES  Get Session approval  Sign up volunteers  Determine number of visits for start  Contact Presbytery Representative * Contact County DFCS office * Contact County Juvenile Court * Setup training time and place including, judge, DFCS, and Presbytery representatives.  Conduct training  Get signed confidentiality forms  Maintain files for background checks or set up checks if needed  Schedule first visitation and include DFCS representative

11 Duties of Greeters  Signs in parents, custodians and children  Ensures additional attendees are directed to a waiting area  Collect consent and identification forms for parents and custodians  Direct guests to appropriate rooms

12 Duties of Escorts  Escort guest to appropriate rooms  Escort children to restrooms as needed  Return child to main area after visit  Ensure child is paired with appropriate custodian at end of visit

13 Duties of Observer  Prepare visitation room with toys or snacks  Record observations on forms provided. Every item may not be observed on every visit. - Comments are encouraged where appropriate positive or negative behavior is noted  Return observation forms to Coordinator  Remind parent of visitation rules if they are not being observed  Terminate the visit if necessary  Do not counsel or advise the parent or child

14 Visitation Walk Through  Visiting parents arrive minutes early and show ID, sign in and are escorted to visitation room  Children and custodians arrive and check in, and children are escorted to room  Children and parents visit for one hour  Observer will notify families 15 and 5 minutes prior to visit end  Child is escorted to greeting area and custodian  Once all visitation parties have left, volunteers will complete observation form and provide to coordinator

15 Obstacles for Safe Havens Programs  Lack of DFCS Cooperation (a) Don’t want to do anything different (b) DFCS turnover  Problems with Getting Criminal Background Checks Completed  Parent’s Lack of Reliable Transportation

16 Safe Havens Programs Allow Churches to:  Share their love  Help families  Build a Better Community


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