Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Guardian Program

Today’s guest blogger is Kelli Stallman, Coordinator for the Guardian Program.
Hope House’s Guardian Program provides supervised visitation or exchange for non-custodial parents and their children. Our client families are mainly ordered into supervised visits by Adult Abuse Courts, Family Court, or Children’s Division.

These families have issues that range from domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, mental health issues, or a parent never having been in a child’s life.
Because of the many problems that are faced by these families, the Program is arranged so that custodial and non-custodial parents park in different parking lots, and arrive at different times to avoid any chance meetings.

We have therapists supervise the visits between the non-custodial parent and the child. An off-duty police officer is on site at all times. The families receive an hour of visitation a week free of charge, and can schedule additional time for a fee.
As the Coordinator for the Guardian Program, I have the pleasure of working directly with the survivors of domestic violence, as well as their children who have witnessed the violence between parents.
Often times, the children have themselves been victims of some type of abuse. The Guardian Program staff also work directly with the non-custodial parent, which is often the identified abuser. My job is extremely rewarding. I watch the kids grow and change, and see them heal from the abuse they have seen and experienced.
When I have a child from the program run up to give me a hug and a huge smile, it hits home why I do the job I do. How often do you get a card from a child you barely know thanking you for what you do, or drawing you a personal Christmas card? I am fortunate to receive several of these every year.
Sometimes what is thought of as the hardest job, by nature of its requirements, can be the most rewarding. I look forward to the drawings, the hugs, and the smiles that greet me when the kids come in. That is what I look forward to each day.

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