Dr. Mary Barnas never gave up on the notion that the Washington County Supervised Visitation Center would be up and running again.
Her belief in the value of the program was recently rewarded.
The Ohio Department of Job & Family Services provided a large grant to the Washington County Healthier Buckeye Council that was submitted by the Family & Children First Council. The Visitation Center is receiving $48,000 of the grant to reopen the center for the first time since 2010.
Barnas, who is a McCoy Professor of Psychology at Marietta College, will coordinate the program that is under the umbrella of EVE, Inc. — the community’s domestic violence shelter. She served as the director during the previous years of operation.
“This service is critical to our community, and I’m pleased we have secured the funding for it,” said Barnas, a developmental psychologist specializing in family violence. “I’m also excited that we will be able to provide internships for Marietta College students. This offers important hands-on experiences for our students who are interested in working with at-risk children and families.”
The Visitation Center, which first opened in the fall of 1997, offers supervised exchanges in cases where both parents can see their children unsupervised but are not permitted to have contact with each other. Barnas said they hope to find grant support that will allow them to offer supervised visits in cases where a parent can see the child in a safe and monitored environment.
Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane has been involved with the Visitation Center since its inception and he is excited to see it return.
“This is an excellent program with a proven track record,” he said. “The reopening of the Visitation Center will be invaluable for the community.”
Amanda Reed ’15, MAP’16, is the head site supervisor and she said they hope to open and assist clients soon.
“It’s a good resource for families and good for the kids — it shows them a safer environment than many of them are used to,” said Reed, who graduated from Marietta’s five-year BA/MA program.
To learn more about the program, or to make a referral, please contact Dr. Barnas at (740) 376-4960. She said referrals do not have to be court-ordered and she encourages any family experiencing conflict to reach out to her to see if the services being offered would be helpful.