New supervised visitation center opens in Stearns County

ST. CLOUD – Families impacted by domestic violence have a new place to have supervised visits with children inside the Stearns County Administration Building.

The Holding Hope Supervised Access Center was made possible by a $550,000 grant from the US Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women. It is a place where visiting parents can meet their children in a safe and supervised space or a supervised exchange of children from parent to parent.

Responsible for holding hope Mindy Thomas says they only handle cases where domestic violence is involved. As a result, they needed to create safe areas to organize supervised visits but also to make it comfortable for their customers…

We have a family center. Our rooms are furnished with couches, televisions, kitchen tables, ways to provide food, and lots of toys and activities that parents can do with their children when they visit. And we are very discreet.

The Anna Marie Alliance and other members of the Partnership Against Domestic Violence have worked together for years to open the center. General Manager of Anna Marie Charles Hempbeck says the design is all about the safety of everyone involved…

The need for a space like Holding Hope is that it makes sure the parties don’t have contact with each other, don’t see each other, and make sure the children are safe. It also ensures that custodial and non-custodial parents are equally safe. So it’s really security-focused.

The three-year grant covered renovations to the former county registrar’s office and will fund center operations until it can secure future funding.

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