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Celebrating 10 years of providing a safe space

The Family Tree
Posted at 10:58 PM, May 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-11 08:09:53-04

BALTIMORE — The Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement is celebrating 10 years of the Baltimore Visitation Center.

It helps families impacted by domestic violence connect.

MONSE's Baltimore Visitation Center bridges the gap for families, providing a healthy interaction for everyone involved in a very unpleasant situation.

Every weekend, the Baltimore Visitors Center provides a free safe space for children, allowing for supervised and monitored visitations.

"It's because of intimate partner violence, so we have a situation where two parents are in the middle of a conflict,” said Wendy Lee, who is the Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Deputy Director.

Parents arrive at The Family Tree Center at separate times and are in separate rooms while the children get to connect with the parent that doesn't have custody, who they may otherwise not get to see.

"The children may still want to a have a relationship with the parent they're not currently with, and so we provide this safe space beautiful visitation room where they can have games and real comfortable parenting time,” said Lee.

One parent who participates in the program, Paul McFarland, said, "My kids come and do visitation with their mother every Friday and it really has been a blessing."

McFarland and his children have been participating in the program for about a year. He says the center provides a path of healing for everyone involved.

"I want them to come here, we can do this until they're 18 until they're old enough to make decisions for themselves and choose what relationships they want for themselves this is a perfect way to bridge that gap and get to that place while everything remains safe,” said McFarland.

Last year, 73 families were served through the program, with 100 children able to stay connected to both parents.

"They do tough work when they're working with the abuser and the abused and children at the same time making sure they're still able to connect, that's tough work,” said Mayor Brandon Scott.

Lee said most of their cases come from the court, but they do take referrals.