County seeking grant to set up supervised visitation center

The Shelby County Commission is seeking a $400,000 federal grant to develop a supervised visitation and exchange center in partnership with Family Connection.

Reggie Holloway, the county’s community services manager, said once established, the center would provide a safe place for families to have access to their loved ones.

“Let’s say you have a divorced couple, hypothetically. Let’s say the child is staying with the father because the mother is an abuser,” he said. “Well, she still has the right to see her child, but to protect the child and to protect her, this will be done in a facility where all parties will be in a safe environment.”

However, the grant is a development grant, so such a center is still some time away. Holloway would not speculate on when the center might be constructed or where it would be located.

The grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, requires no match from the county, so all money used for development would be federal funds.

Holloway said the county hopes to hear back about the grant as early as this summer, but it could be much later than that.

A visitation and exchange center would help keep children out of their parents’ disputes, Holloway said.

“Even when people are separated, families sometimes take the exchange of children and use it as an opportunity to inflict additional emotional, physical and psychological abuse on the children or on their victims,” he said. “A visitation and exchange center could provide visitation and protect all parties.”