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Visitation center filled a much-needed void

February 25, 2012
The Herald-Star

Most people would do anything to protect or help a child, especially a parent.

Unfortunately, some parents going through a separation or divorce can use children like a pawn. These children also may have witnessed violence in the home, whether it be verbal or physical. The verbal or physical attacks in many cases continue well after the divorce decree.

The A.L.I.V.E. domestic violence shelter for the past 11 years operated a visitation center where divorced parents could exchange custody of their children without confrontation. It was simple. One parent dropped the child off and the other parent would show up a short time later to get the child.

The center also was used for supervised or monitored visitation. A common pleas court judge would order the supervised or monitored visitation in difficult cases.

The visitation center closed its doors last weekend because of a loss of federal funding.

The visitation center here was one of only a handful in the state still operating. It operated on a $34,000 a year budget. The United Way of Jefferson County provided some of the operating money,with the rest coming from A.L.I.V.E. and the federal grant. The A.L.I.V.E. board of directors made a difficult decision when it determined the domestic shelter was in more of a need for the funding.

Now divorced parents will have to go back to finding a public place to make their exchanges because they can't act like adults and behave in a civilized manner. What are these parents teaching their children? Some parents even resorted to exchanging children at a police station because of their volatile relationship.

The children are hurt the most by the closing of the visitation center.

The center may reopen if enough funds are found, as it should.

It is a shame that the A.L.I.V.E. domestic violence shelter operates on a minimum budget. It is even more of a shame that the visitation center was forced to close.

We hope that no violent situations arise because of the closing of the visitation center. Such instances make headlines across the country every day.

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