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YWCA in Oak Ridge offers free supervised visitation for families experiencing violence

“This is a space where parents and children can come together, have a safe environment where they can visit and heal their relationships with one another."

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — 1 in every 4 children experience violence, according to the Young Women's Christian Association Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley.

A new free service at YWCA's Oak Ridge location called Justice for Families Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Program began in August, and allows children to see their mom and dad separately. 

“This is a space where parents and children can come together, have a safe environment where they can visit and heal their relationships with one another in a really safe space where they’re being supervised by our staff,” the Director of Victim Services for YWCA Knoxville and Tennessee Valley, Lauren Lindback, said.

YWCA’s Oak Ridge location is perfect for this type of visitation due to its long and narrow build along Oak Ridge Turnpike.

Here is how the program works:

Pick-up and drop-off times are staggered between parents. The visiting parent will wait in a room adjacent to the visitation room until YWCA staff and the children are ready. One staff member will be present in the visitation room while another staff member supervises behind a one-sided window. Once the parent is allowed in, visitation will last between one and two hours.

The visitation room is equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, a television, a Nintendo Switch, board games, and full of toys for children of all ages.

The supervised visitation program was made possible through a $550,000 competitive grant from the Office on Violence Against Women through The U.S. Department of Justice. YWCA Knoxville and Tennessee Valley was the program awarded the grant in Tennessee, and one of 22 organizations in the U.S.

The $550,000 will go towards staffing and operating costs over a 3 year period. YWCA will be eligible to apply again in 2022.

The Justice for Families Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Program currently serves one family, but has room for many more.

Families must have a history of violence and at least one parent must have custody of the child or children to be eligible for this free service.

Anyone with referrals can call 865-523-6126 or email eeidson@ywcaknox.com.