Dalhousie Place will be opening its doors for an open house event on Wednesday, August 23, 2023.
Valya Roberts, Executive Director of Dalhousie Place, said that the Brantford and District Supervised Access Centre has been offering safe, neutral, child-focused services including supervised visits, exchanges and support for families.
“We provide safe conflict free visit environment for children and their families who are typically going through the court system and it’s called supervised parenting time,” she said. “That is primarily what we do in addition to safe neutral drop off exchanges and those are funded through the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.”
Roberts said during the organization’s 31 years, it has provided over 30,000 supervised parenting sessions and that even with the lack of volunteers, they continue to offer families a neutral place in their time of need, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since the pandemic, there has been a big increase in intimate partner violence, as well as opioid and substance abuse. So, having Dalhousie Place is great to have in the community because it’s a place where you can maintain that relationship with your child, no matter what the circumstances are,” she said. “Whether you’re dealing with either of those issues, or if it’s parents who just haven’t seen their child for a long time, or sometimes it’s a terrible custody battle – but whatever the circumstances – this is sort of a neutral place where families can still maintain that relationship between the non-residential parent and their children.”
The organization also works to provide a variety of support programs for children and adults alike.
“We also have support programs such as K.A.T.C.H., which stands for ‘Kids and the Changing Home.’ They are weekly sessions for kids whose family who have been dealing with separation, divorce, and custody access and they are totally free,” said Roberts. “The program typically runs for six weeks and it’s for children ages six to 12. That program is funded by the United Way of Brant. We also have workshops for parents each month and that’s Planning for the Children after Parental Separation which is a virtual program (available on site for the Haldimand-Norfolk branch) funded by the United Way also.”
The Executive Director said that when children come in for the organization’s programming, they are learning to develop coping strategies.
“The support programs really work to prevent future situations,” said Roberts. “The K.A.T.C.H. group is a fantastic program, and it teaches them everything from some basic yoga moves to how to sort of develop coping strategies, journaling and things of that nature. It also gives them an opportunity to be with other kids that have gone through the similar situation as they have. It’s a wonderful program and it makes such a big difference.”
For parents, the free programming offers them an inside of view on how their actions can affect their little ones.
“Parents are not necessarily aware of the impact of their actions on the children and their development. The whole focus of that parent’s workshop is understanding from the child’s perspective, how they are impacted by the separation and divorce, and what parents can do to support them,” said Roberts. “Because for the even little things like when parents split up, sometimes they use their kids as messengers between parties, so during this workshop they learn about the impact on the children from a respectful and an educational point of view.”
Since losing a large number of volunteers through the pandemic, Roberts said the idea behind the upcoming open house is to promote volunteerism.“We were trying to look at different ways that we could start to recover our volunteer program. So, we thought maybe for those interested in volunteering and who want to learn more about the program, it would be a nice idea for them to be able to sort of check out the facility,” she said. “The event will run from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in Brantford at 82 Charlotte St. and it’s an opportunity to learn about our programs and volunteer opportunities. That night, we’ll have some snacks and refreshments, and if people want more information before hand, they can email us at email@example.com or visit www.dalhousieplace.com”