Bridging Bonds: How ICAN’s Supervised Visitation Program Helps Keep Families Together

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By Katie Clark, Nurturing Parent Program (NPP) Manager at ICAN

Introduction to Supervised Visitation: Understanding its Significance

As the Nurturing Parent Program (NPP) Program Manager at ICAN, I've witnessed firsthand the profound impact of supervised visitation on maintaining and enhancing family dynamics. But what exactly is supervised visitation, and why is it so crucial?

Supervised visitation allows a noncustodial parent to visit with their child in the presence of another adult. This arrangement supports the parent-child relationship and ensures the child's safety. At ICAN, we're dedicated to providing parents and their children with a safe, comfortable environment that fosters healthy, positive interactions regardless of the complexities of the Co-parenting adult-to-adult relationship. We aim to protect and nurture these precious bonds through staggered visitation times, trained monitors, unbiased reporting, and a secure setting. 

The Heart of the Matter: Why Supervised Visitation Matters for Child Safety

The question of how supervised visitation contributes to the safety and well-being of children is central to our mission. Children stepping into our visitation suite often feel like they are entering a home, greeted warmly by their visiting parents in a space designed to feel welcoming and safe. This trauma-informed approach includes staggered timing to prevent potential conflict, allowing children to become familiar with the space and feel a sense of ownership and safety.

A past program client once said, “Children have an inherent need to see their parents, to talk with them, sit with them, laugh with them, and be held by them. This program helps safely fill some of that need and can give a child reassurance that even though their family is not together, they are still loved, valued, and wanted.” This insight beautifully captures the essence of our mission at ICAN. It's a powerful reminder of the fundamental human connection and the inherent need children have for their parents' presence in their lives. Our program plays a critical role in facilitating these vital connections in a safe and supportive environment.

Guardians of Connection: Inside the Life of a Supervised Visitation Monitor

Our monitors, a dedicated team at ICAN, are passionate about helping families navigate the complexities of supervised visits. Every day, they come prepared, understanding each family's specific needs and backgrounds, whether it's a family with a peanut allergy or a parent struggling with mental health issues.

Our monitors are not just bystanders; they actively build relationships with all family members, enforce visit guidelines, assist with goal setting, and promote trust, neutrality, and confidentiality. They are trained in the 40-year evidence-based NPP curriculum and offer supportive and educational visitation that distinguishes our program from others. Through pre- and post-visit meetings, they employ a supportive educational approach to model positive behavior and facilitate meaningful interactions.

Creating Safe Havens: How ICAN Designs Spaces for Family Bonds

Families deserve a welcoming space conducive to positive interactions, not institutional or sterile. Our visitation spaces are thoughtfully designed with comfortable seating, books, toys, and other elements that encourage communication and bonding. We are excited to look forward to the future, with ICAN being the first-of-its-kind co-located with a children’s museum. The Supervised Visitation program will be able to host visits in the museum if appropriate for the family situation. This deliberate choice reflects our commitment to supporting families on their journey toward reunification, whether short—or long-term.

Supervised visitation is pivotal in safeguarding children's well-being while nurturing the invaluable bond between a parent and child. At ICAN, we are dedicated to creating safe, supportive environments where families can thrive. Our comprehensive approach aims to bridge bonds and foster healthy family dynamics, making a lasting difference in the lives of those we serve.


About Supervised Visitation Month: 

Supervised Visitation Awareness Month is a time to raise awareness about the importance of supervised visitation for families going through difficult times. This type of visitation can be crucial in ensuring the safety and well-being of children while allowing non-custodial parents and grandparents to maintain a relationship with them.

Families are often referred to Supervised Visitation programs during Family Court proceedings. This includes cases with a history of domestic violence, substance use, child abuse, neglect, or other issues that may put the child at risk. In these situations, a neutral third party, such as ICAN, is present during visits to ensure the child is safe and protected.


About Katie: 

Katie Clark began working as a Supervised Visitation monitor in 2002 and has dedicated the past 20 years to developing the program into a safe and supportive environment. Clark joined the ICAN team when the Family Nurturing Center was absorbed in 2013, ensuring the program’s longevity in Oneida County.