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Supervised Visitation2018-04-24T23:30:56+00:00

Supervised Visitation

Supervised Visitation is to make certain that both parents have an opportunity to bond and maintain contact with their children. Supervised Visitation has different levels of safeguards depending on your family’s needs. Some families need an office based structured environment that is both safe and comfortable for the child. Other families need off site visits which be at the location of your choice, including your house. To determine what type of Supervised Visitation is best for your family we meet with each parent separately during an intake appointment. At this appointment we discuss safeguards with each parent and receive a copy of your court order for Supervised Visitation, if you do not have a court order than we discuss the safeguards with each parent and collectively make a decision that is appropriate for all parties. Your court order should provide you with information regarding the times, places, restrictions and conditions of the visits. The judge has considered how to best protect the child. Even if you do not agree with the order, do all that you can to make sure the visits occur as they are written in the court order.

The different types of Supervised Visitation that we provide creates an opportunity for parents to feel good about bonding with their children in a safe and positive way. Families who are going through a difficult time or a transitional time still need to bond with their children, we help make this happen for you.

Supervised visitation can be difficult and uncomfortable at times and it seems impossible to have a positive attitude about bonding with your child. Usually there are hurt and angry feelings toward a co-parent, it is important to remember that, if possible, children benefit from having two parents in their lives.

Our Supervised Visitation Center is located  in  Tampa, FL 33618 and approved with a signed Agreement of Compliance with Minimum Standards for On- and Off-Site Supervised Visitation with the 13th Judicial Circuit.

Off-Site or Field Based Supervised Visitation

Our unique off site or field based therapeutic supervised program is individualized to accommodate your family. An off site visit is the same as a field based visit, it just means that the Supervised Visitation is not conducted in office. The location of your off site supervised visit can be anywhere you wish unless your court order lists limitations of your visit. The location can range from going to the beach, a park, a rec center to play sports, Chuck e cheese, video game centers such as Dave & Busters, trampoline parks, skateboard parks and other places or activities that you would like to do with your children. Off site or field based visits provides safe monitoring in a comfortable non-office setting.

On-Site or In-Office Supervised Visitation

The children and parent are given a private, child-friendly room with appropriate toy or things to do for all ages. We have video game systems, board games, toys, card games and much more. The child and parent are monitored by a trained volunteer supervisor who is neutral to the family situation and will document the interaction and activities of the visit.

How do I get Supervised Visitation?

Supervised Visitation may be required by the court for many reasons; including problems with divorce, domestic violence, abuse, neglect or simply an unusual period of time in which the child has not seen the parent and needs to become reacquainted.
If you do not have a court order to participate in Supervised Visitation, than both parents must agree to participate in supervised visits. If you and your co-parent do not agree to Supervised Visitation than we recommend that you either see the self-help tab on your county Courthouse website, visit the courthouse in person and ask for self-help or consult with an attorney. Parents often request supervised visitation or exchange because they do not get along with the other parent or there have been other issues in the past, if this is the case for your family than you may need legal assistance to help facilitate a discussion with your co-parent about Supervised Visitation.
Supervised Visitation when ordered by the Court is typically done to ensure children’s safety when divorced or separating parents are in high conflict situations or there are concerns for child safety.

Are There Rules and Qualifications for a Supervised Visitation Monitor?

YES, Guidelines, training, and minimum qualifications have been written for professional Monitors by the Florida State University Clearinghouse. However, it is not yet mandatory that Monitors be trained or certified, so you must be careful in choosing your Monitor. If your monitor is trained and certified, you have reassurance that your monitor can for example effectively assess for the emotional aspect of supervised visitation and look for underlying or overt signs of distress in children that may show the child needs extra precautions or a different type of Supervised Visitation.

Why our Supervised Visitation Center is different

Most parents are unhappy or embarrassed that they must use supervised visitation services; supervised visitation is not how most parents envision spending time with their children. The quality of the supervised visitation facility helps to create a positive experience for your children. Premier visitation facilities such as Whittaker Family Services can offer unbeatable quality with private visitation solutions. Whittaker Family Services supervised visitation facility is in a comfortable setting, with individualized services to specific circumstances of families while matching their demographics and lifestyles.

According to My Family Wizard, non-profit centers and Community based supervised visitation services show 70% – 90% of families served are in the low and very low-income brackets – those with the least resources within their reach to secure alternative solutions. Because these facilities subsidize the cost with state money, grants and possibly donations, the facility is generalized and is so over utilized that at times cannot offer more than one hour per week of visitation. These facilities do serve the community and fill a very important community need but they cannot serve all members of the community. The majority of families need more than one hour per week of visitation and would like to visit their children in a location that is comfortable and does not feel like a community supervised visitation center. It is well known that the need for supervised visitation is not based on low income or high income, which means that there should be a facility to match every family profile.

Many families want better quality alternatives to the community non-profit family supervised visitation facilities. Families who have used our facility have stated that they don’t feel publicly embarrassed and they now understand why there is a cost to utilize our supervised visitation. Our facility is in a newly renovated office building with a variety of professionals ranging from therapists to attorneys. Families who cannot participate in out of office visitation have discussed the embarrassment of possibly running into someone they may know while at other facilities. Because of the range of professionals within our building and the professional manner the families were treated they don’t feel targeted as “the family who needs supervised visitation”. Whittaker Family Services is aware that our consumers do not want everyone in the building to be aware of why they are in the building. The walk to your supervised room is so discrete that onlookers will not be aware of your purpose for being in the building. Our staff is trained to treat every consumer with the utmost respect they deserve.

With Whittaker Family Services you can ensure safety standards and employ the highest quality of trained professionals who keep your business private and offers a quality supervised visitation service that does not feel like “jail”.

Waiting Area
Supervised Visitation Office, Tampa, Florida.

How do I know if the Monitor is properly trained?

Our Monitors are properly trained in and hold certificates by Florida State University Institute for Family Violence Studies in all of the following:

  • Family-Centered Practice for Supervised Visitation

  • Strengthening the Parent-Child Bond

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Supervised Visitation

  • Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment

  • Child Sexual Abuse

  • Supervised Visitation when allegations of sexual abuse

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences

  • Universal Precautions

  • Protective factors for families

What Is the Difference Between a Professional and a Non-Professional Monitor?

A non-professional Monitor is:
A friend or family member
A nanny Services who is not properly certified in the above training or certifications
Any monitor who is not formally educated in Domestic Violence, Childhood Development, Sexual abuse and how it relates to Supervised Visitation

A professional Monitor is:
Also called a professional provider. This means any person that is paid for providing Supervised Visitation Services, or an independent contractor, employee, intern, or volunteer operating independently or through a supervised visitation center or agency.

We perform background checks every 6 months on all of our monitors, additional requirements for our monitors are:

Be 21 years of age or older;
Have no record of conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) within the last 5 years;
Not have been on probation or parole for the last 10 years;
Have no record of a conviction for child molestation, child abuse, or other crimes against a person;
Have proof of automobile insurance if transporting the child;
Have no civil, criminal, or juvenile restraining orders within the last 10 years;
Have no current or past court order in which the provider is the person being supervised;
Be able to speak the language of the party being supervised and of the child, or the provider must provide a neutral interpreter over the age of 18 who is able to do so;
Agree to adhere to and enforce the court order regarding Supervised Visitation;
Meet the training requirements as stated in “Standard 5.20. Uniform standards of practice for providers of supervised visitation”; and
Sign a declaration or Declaration of Supervised Visitation Provider stating that all requirements to be a professional provider have been met.

 

How Do I Select a Professional Monitor?

Parents will usually ask a family member or friend that cares and is concerned for the children and family. The parents should ask someone they feel will be impartial, will follow the court order and will comply with safety standards in Supervised Visitation. If you will be using a non-professional you will have to ensure that that the non-professional is following safety protocol as well as paying close attention for overt signs of emotional distress in the children to know if a visit must be terminated. It is difficult to choose a family member or close friend as they are emotionally tied to the situation and can be more biased or opinionated when supervising rather than being neutral. The relationship you have with a professional provider will be more of a business relationship in which services are performed for a fee.

What is the purpose of Supervised Visitations?

The purpose and goal of Monitored Visitations is to enable an ongoing relationship between the non-custodial parent and child by impartially observing their contact in a safe and structured environment. We also facilitate and maintain appropriate child/parent interaction during supervised contact and allow the judge to make informed decisions, based on the outcome of these visits.

Another purpose of Monitored Visitations is to allow a safe and educational learning experience for the non-custodial parent. In our Therapeutic Supervised Visitation Program, if the parent makes a mistake, the mental health professional is able to intervene and correct the behavior, therefore teaching the parent correct parenting skills.

Who needs Therapeutic Supervised Visitation?

Normally high-conflict families who are at risk for domestic violence, physical or verbal abuse, and parents with a history of very poor parenting skills require the use of therapeutic supervised visitation programs. By having master level mental health professionals supervise visitations, our staff is able to assist in identifying and attempting to correct any issues that may prevent the parent from having a healthy and productive relationship with their child.

Those who have previous allegations of sexual abuse, who have threatened to abscond with the child, or with a history of severe parental alienation are also generally good candidates for therapeutically supervised visitation in our office in Carrollwood, or our field based program in Tampa, FL 33618, Tampa Bay Area, Hillsborough County, Florida.

What is Therapeutic Supervised Visitation?

Interactive therapeutic interventions and behavior modifications strengthens your family and promotes healing.
Therapeutic Supervised Visitation is similar to a traditional monitored visit between a non-custodial parent and child, except that a licensed therapist is involved in supervising and guiding the visit. The therapist interacts with the family prior to, during and after the visit to help mend and heal the parent-child relationship. The therapist also makes sure that the guidelines set by the Court or referral agency are followed, and submits progress reports and recommendations to the referral source as required. Therapeutic supervised visitation services are designed to help parents who cannot have unsupervised access to their children due to a history of child physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, or mental illness. Our field based program can work around your busy schedule. We travel to you and provide services that can improve how your family interacts with each other.

What is the process of starting Supervised Visitation?

Obtain Court Order or participate Voluntarily:
Once you have determined that Supervised Visitation is best for your family you can either obtain a court order for a parent to participate in Supervised Visitation or if you and your co-parent agree to use Monitored Visitation than it is not necessary to obtain a court order unless you would like one or if you feel that your co-parent will not comply with the rules of Supervised Visitation. If this is the case than seek legal consultation or go to the self-help area of your county’s courthouse website or visit the courthouse in person.

Research Supervised Visitation providers

Determine if you need in office Supervised Visitation or if off site Supervised Visitation is safe for your family. Research Monitors and determine qualifications, certifications and training.

Once you have chosen the Monitor that you feel comfortable with, contact their office.

Before you begin supervised visits, the provider must meet with you and your co-parent in person and discuss certain topics about the visits with you. These topics include:

  • Obtain any court orders if you have one
  • Terms of the visits
  • Method of payment
  • Safety procedures
  • Parent concerns with children or their co-parent
  • Any risks, needs or strengths
  • Reasons for interrupting or ending a visit
  • For court purposes, how detailed the visit documentation will be

You will also be asked to sign an agreement with the monitor or program provider about conditions. If you would like to review the qualifications and guidelines that the monitor and program provider must follow, the provider will give you a copy of the Uniform Standards of Practice for Providers of Supervised Visitation.

Prepare for your intake session as you would prepare for a business interview. Make a list of questions you have for the provider and make sure you understand what services will be provided and what is expected of you. This will help you feel more comfortable during the visits and allow you to focus on your child.

Common Questions

To do everything possible to provide an atmosphere for parent-child bonding while making sure that the child has a safe visit.
To remain neutral with no opinions; your supervisor will avoid taking sides with either parent, and will keep your opinions about any aspect of the case to yourself.
To read your court order and Intake form to ensure a proper supervised visit is conducted for your family regarding the times, places, restrictions and conditions of the visits. The judge has considered how to best protect the child. Even if you do not agree with the order, do all that you can to make sure the visits occur as they are written in the court order.
To see and hear all contact and conversations between the child and non-custodial parent.
To not allow no derogatory comments about the other parent, his or her family, caretaker, child, or child’s brothers and sisters. If you use a non-professional monitor it is difficult to set boundaries and rules for a friend or family member because they are emotionally involved and can be biased or opinionated. Especially when those involved may be hurt or upset by the divorce or separation or about a particular parent.
To provide an environment for the child that is free from anger and unkind remarks, to help facilitate a positive relationship and create a pleasant experience with the child involved.
Allow no emotional, physical or sexual abuse, no spanking or hitting is allowed, Physical abuse could also include such things as pinching, pulling the child, tickling too hard, and playing too rough.
Emotional and verbal abuse includes such behavior as yelling and screaming; calling the child names such as “sissy”, “stupid”, or “dumb”; blaming and accusing the child; making fun of the child; threatening the child with physical abuse, harm to his or her loved ones and animals; or threatening, frightening situations for the child like abandonment or loss of a home and friends.
Sexual abuse includes inappropriate touching of the child’s body and inappropriate or suggestive language.
To pay close attention to the child’s responses during the visit. Something in the child’s experience may cause him or her to be particularly scared or sensitive to a person, place, animal, TV show, etc. If the child begins to seem afraid or upset, even.
For off site visits your monitor will set rules and boundaries for example, if the visits occur in your home, you may require the parent and child to stay within a certain area of the house or yard. If riding in the car, or playing in the park. The visit will be terminated if rules or boundaries are not kept.
To not allow no discussions of the court case or possible outcomes. The visits are about the relationship between the non-custodial parent and the child. It can be very stressful for children to hear about the court case.
To not allow any information gathering about the other parent or transmit information, personal possessions or papers.
To terminate or not allow supervised visits when the parent appears to be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.

The following rules apply to our Supervised Visitation Program in cases where there are allegations of sexual abuse, unless the court has made other orders. These cases are very painful to everyone involved. In cases of sexual allegation, enforcement of the following rules may be even more difficult among non-professional providers. Unless there are specific court ordered restrictions, the following restrictions are to apply:

  • Allow no exchanges of gifts, money or cards;
  • Allow no photographing, audio-taping, or videotaping of the child;
  • Allow no physical contact with the child such as lap-sitting, hair combing, stroking, hand holding, prolonged wrestling, tickling, horse playing, changing diapers, or accompanying the child to the bathroom;
  • Allow no whispering, passing notes, hand signals or body signals;
  • Allow no supervised visitation in the location where the alleged sexual abuse occurred.

Yes, if the rules of the visit have been broken, the child has become very distressed, or if the safety of the monitor or the safety of the child is at risk, the visit will abruptly end. Depending on the situation, the visit may be temporarily interrupted to talk to the parent about the problem, The visit will be allowed to continue if the parent is cooperative, if the parent is not cooperative than the visit will abruptly end for that day.

If a visit is interrupted or ended than your visitation monitor will:

  1. Tell both parents why the visit was interrupted or ended.
  2. Take notes about the visit, including time, date, location and reasons for the interruption or termination.

The monitor is there to make every effort to keep your child safe and support your child in enjoying the visit with the supervised parent. Whether a paid professional, or a non-professional, family member or friend, the provider’s job is to make sure that the children involved in the visits are safe and free from any unnecessary stress. The provider must be present at all times during the visit, listen to what is being said, and pay close attention to the child’s behavior. If necessary, the provider may interrupt and end a visit. All providers are to report suspect child abuse to the Florida Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.

When you use a Professional Providers, who are certified and trained, you are assured they are able to keep your children safe!

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