Safe Exchange program takes the pressure off
BRECKENRIDGE – Kids can pick up on parents’ anger toward each other, but by the end of the month, a new program will help ease the stress of transferring a child for visitation between divorced parents.The Safe Exchange Program will allow divorced or separated parents to transfer their children in a supervised and safe environment. One parent can drop off the children, then leave. Fifteen minutes later, the other parent can pick up the kids.Ron Griffin – who started the House with the Red Door, which is a safe place for young people to make positive changes – saw the need for a Safe Exchange Program. While supervising his young granddaughter two years ago, he realized he couldn’t find anyone to provide a safe place for divorced or separated parents to transfer their children for visitation.
About two years ago, he started planning the program with Jane Barber, a pediatric nurse. Barber met with professionals in the judicial and human services professions to develop relationships and verify that Summit County needed the program.”The main sense I got was that people would have given us references before we even had a mission statement put together,” Barber said.Now that they have a mission statement and business plan, community leaders are working together to support the program.”This has been methodically looked at,” Griffin said. “We sent drafts of our business plan to these stakeholders to make sure we were moving in the right direction and made appropriate changes with the valuable help of these community caregivers.”
Almost 10 percent of the population in Summit County is separated or divorced, according to 2000 Census data. The new program allows kids to see both parents with a minimal amount of stress.”So many times, there’s so much hurt and anger between divorced parents,” said program director Cindi Harris-Krane, who also worked as the coordinator for Summit County Parents as Teachers program. “Even if they don’t display the behavior, the child still picks up on what’s going on, and that stress really gets transferred to the child.”Staff will offer the exchange program on weekends, when most visitations occur. Safe Exchange is not a supervised visitation program; rather, it’s a neutral place where children can be transferred without parents seeing each other. In the future, Barber sees it growing into a supervised visitation program, but for now, it’s starting small.
The program will help parents who are court-ordered into the program, but it also will be open to other parents. Participants will have to follow a set of rules to make the process run smoothly.The program will begin in late September. Currently, Harris-Krane is looking for more volunteers to work about three hours a week in teams of two. Training for volunteers will be from 4-7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at the House with the Red Door. For more information, call (970) 470-3377.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at email@example.com.
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