In Response to the tragedy in Sacramento...

At the Supervised Visitation Network, we are heartbroken over the tragedy that took place in Sacramento. To think that anyone would want to end the lives of their children and church staff is beyond our comprehension. 

And while we are stunned and grieving over this incomprehensible act of violence, we know that this is a moment when we must come together to prevent more tragedies like this from occurring. We may not fully understand everything about this case, but  what has been reported seems to suggest that this visit needed to be done in a safer, more secure way, by a trained professional supervised visitation provider in a secure facility. We must amplify the voices of professional supervised visitation professionals and shine a light on the ways that safe, professional supervised visitation is an asset to our communities. Judges are going to make sure that both parents have access to their children, but it is the professional supervised visitation providers that assess risks and provide services in a safe, trauma informed and child focused manner. In the midst of this tragedy that has rocked our field,  we must continue to fight for the right of survivors to have access to affordable, professional supervised visitation services. 



Professional Supervised Visitation is the Safest Option  

In light of recent tragedies, the question has been posed. Is supervised visitation services safe? The short answer is yes, when done with purpose. A professional supervised visitation includes an intake, case review, orientation, safety plan and services that match the presenting needs of the family. When done right, supervised visitation allows children to connect with their non custodial parent in a safe, trauma informed, child focused environment. This does not happen by accident. Training in supervised visitation is key to safe services. Members of the Supervised Visitation Network pledge to follow the Standards of Practice that have been in place since 1996. These standards not only outline service areas that providers need to address, but also speaks to the 24 hours of training that all visitation providers must obtain, and the 16 additional hours for program managers.  

Members of SVN obtain training in each of these areas: 

  1. SVN Standards and Code of Ethics;
  2. Provider policies and procedures;
  3. Safety for all participants;
  4. Mandatory child abuse reporting;
  5. Professional boundaries, conflict of interest, confidentiality, and maintaining neutrality;
  6. Basic stages of child development;
  7. Effects of separation and divorce on children and families;
  8. Grief and loss associated with parental separation and removal from the home due to child abuse and neglect;
  9. Cultural sensitivity and diversity;
  10. Family violence, including domestic violence and the effects of domestic violence on children;
  11. Child abuse and neglect, including child sexual abuse;
  12. Substance abuse;
  13. Provisions of service to parents and children with mental health and developmental issues or other physical or emotional impairment;
  14. Parent introduction/re-introduction;
  15. Parenting skills;
  16. Assertiveness training and conflict resolution;
  17. How and when to intervene during visits or exchanges to maintain the safety of all participants;
  18. Observation of parent/child interactions;
  19. Preparation of factual observation notes and reports; and
  20. Relevant laws regarding child custody and visitation and child protection.

Can’t Family and Friends just watch and supervise?

In cases of High Conflict, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, it is not recommended to use a family or friend. The reality is that supervised visitation is not just a babysitting job. The visitation monitor must be well trained to understand all the aspects of this very challenging work. Professional monitors are educated at the risks that supervising families from high conflict situation can present. Whether there are orders of protection, restraining orders, concerns for lethality, mental health concerns, substance use concerns, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, a professional supervisor makes informed decisions about the safety of providing services. If, When, Where, and How a visitation service is provided is carefully determined based on the above concerns. Without the use of a professional provider skilled in working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse and neglect, the abusive actions can still occur. 

How do Parents find a provider?

If you have a court order for visitation, the local courts may have a list of providers in your area. Your attorney may be able to advise you about services. Check the SVN Directory of Service Providers to see if there is one in your area. SVN Members understand the unique emotional and physical safety risks that require careful preparation and training of those providing Supervised Visitation. 

For more information contact Joe Nullet, Executive Director at [email protected], or (904) 419-7861 Ext. 2