Supervised Visitation Helps Kids Grow

Edward is passionate and outspoken about parenting. When he talks about his son, his face brightens and the love he has for his son is clear. There is also an unmistakable determination in how he talks about being a part of his son’s life—something he almost missed out on completely.

Instead, Sabrina’ Place gives parents a chance to show up. What Edward did with that chance was incredible. He used the supervised visitation and safe exchange services Sabrina’s Place offers as a place to start.

Edward’s son was born in 2018, but he and his son’s mother didn’t stay together.

By 2019 their relationship had become strained. She suggested that she would pursue full custody of their child, which could have meant Edward might not see his son again. The two went to court to settle the question of custody and visitation rights. There was, at that point, a very real chance that Edward would be cut out of his son’s life entirely.

The court suggested the option of supervised visitation while the custody process played out. Initially, the court ordered up to 24 hours a year of supervised visitation for Edward and suggested several supervised visitation programs. Sabrina’s Place was the only free program on the list, so Edward called and scheduled his first visit.

Somewhere to Start

Visitation is just the beginning, of course. It’s not the same as having time at home or taking your kid to the park.

It wasn’t as much time as Edward wanted. But, as he says, “It was a start. And Sabrina’s Place laid the foundation to let me go from 24 hours each year to where I am now, having custody every other weekend.”

Sabrina’s Place is, first and foremost, about safety. Edward appreciated that Sabrina’s Place takes some of the pressures off the visits, knowing that visits will be safe and free of any kind of confrontation. Parents don’t even have to negotiate the rules of the visit—the program takes on a lot of the logistical work. Sabrina’s Place allowed Edward to relax and focus on building a healthy relationship with his kid. “It’s the perfect place to start for any parent if you want to be in your kid’s life…it’s also a safe environment to focus on your child,” he says.

Being There and Being Part of Their Life

When asked about parenting in general, Edward is quick to point out two elements that he views as necessary. “First you need to show up,” he says. But he also believes that “you need to play your role—to be a parent.” Looking back at his first few years of fatherhood, he says, “I’m learning your child will always love you if you play your part. They’ll know their Daddy was there.” The national Supervised Visitation Network agrees. They suggest that “unless special circumstances exist, children generally fare best when they have the emotional and financial support and ongoing involvement of both parents.” Edward was ready to play the part fully, and Sabrina’s Place opened the door for him and his son to have that important relationship.

Melody Robinson, Sabrina’s Place Coordinator, says that Edward is a great example of what the program is there to do. She also acknowledges that the court process is complicated. Discouraged parents can stop trying to be part of their kids’ lives. “It was a big mountain Edward had to climb,” she says. “And he did it.”

“You gotta start somewhere,” Edward says. “And you can’t give up. You can’t force families to stay together, but you can put in the effort to be in your kid’s life.” Sabrina’s Place is there to help parents do just that, and take some of the uncertainty out of the process. This way, parents like Edward can focus on the most important part of their lives—their children.