Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre wishes to remind the public of the free safe child-exchange services offered at The P.A.C.T. Place Supervised Visitation and Exchange Center in Lockport.
”We want our citizens to know we offer a safe alternative for visitation and exchanges where one parent would never have contact with the other,” said Sheriff Webre. ”Parents often select public places such as parking lots to exchange a child for visitation, but as long as there is contact between the two parties, you have the potential for problems to arise.”
In a neighboring parish this week, a man was reportedly beaten by his ex-girlfriends new boyfriend after arriving at her home to pick up their child. Nationally, similar incidents have occurred, as well as others involving abductions, homicides and ongoing intimidation and violence during exchanges.
The PACT Place provides a safe environment for exchanges. Each parent is designated a separate parking area, entrance, and waiting room preventing any contact between them from ever occurring. During exchanges, an LPSO deputy or a Lockport Police officer provide on-site security. Together along with staff members, they ensure parents remain separate while monitoring for unsafe behaviors, such as signs of substance abuse or usage.
”Parents often use their children to continue to control or abuse the other parent,” said Pam Guedry, Coordinator of The P.A.C.T. Place. “They become so focused on hurting the other parent, they dont stop to realize how they are effecting their children. Our staff is trained to identify these tactics and, when observed, intervenes and documents this behavior.”
Parents who utilize exchanges services at The P.A.C.T. Place say they have felt less anxiety during the exchange due to not having to see or speak to the other parent. This, in turn, allows for the child(ren) to feel less anxious about the experience.
One woman, who wishes to remain anonymous and currently utilizes the exchange services, said, Prior to using the P.A.C.T. Place, we attempted to exchange on our own. This was tense and stressful as we never knew what to expect. My childrens father would yell and scream at me, he even grabbed the car door once and refused to let us leave. This was all in front of our kids, who started to become very afraid of their father. I had to start bringing other people with me as witnesses to his violent behavior. I am truly grateful for The P.A.C.T. Place which has been an excellent resource for my family. They have succeeded in making our exchanges a safe and pleasant experience.
Located at the Lockport Town Hall, The P.A.C.T. Place is the only supervised visitation center in the nation operated by a law enforcement agency. P.A.C.T. stands for Parents and Children Together. The mission is to provide a safe, secure and supportive environment for supervised visitation and monitored exchanges to occur in an effort to prevent further impact of domestic violence on children and their abused parent. The center is designed to ensure that both parents remain separate, so that contact between them never occurs. The P.A.C.T. Place provides a child-friendly atmosphere for children to visit with their non-custodial parent.
In addition to safe exchanges, The P.A.C.T. Place also provides supervised visitation where a trained monitor is present during a visit between a non-residential parent and his/her children. The role of the monitor is to assist in establishing an environment that does not support efforts to continue control and abuse, deny violence, or blame the other parent. Monitors listen to all conversations and intervene to stop those inappropriate conversations when needed.
If you would like more information about The P.A.C.T. Place, please call 532-4390.