It has been seven months since the Yankton Family Visitation Center moved into a joint 6,000-square-foot facility with the Women’s and Children’s Center. And according to coordinator Amanda Healy, the added space has been a “huge benefit” for the organization.
Last July, the Family Visitation Center and Yankton Women’s Shelter moved into their new building at 609 Goeden Drive, thanks to an $865,000 South Dakota Neighborhood Stabilization Grant.
“We’re getting very a positive reception from clients and everyone we work with,” Healy said. “It’s such a benefit to us, with the added space, added security and comfort for our clients.”
The Family Visitation Center provides a supervised environment for family visits and child exchanges.
Three available rooms can be used for visitations, and each is equipped with video and audio recording devices for potential court proceedings. In the previous facility, rooms for visitations and exchanges took place around each other.
With nearly double the space as the previous location, the Visitation Center has seen an increase in referrals and clients, Healy said.
“It’s continued on a climb since last year. We are extremely busy right now,” she said. “Every weekend slot is almost always full, and the numbers continue to steadily grow. We don’t intend to slow down.”
Healy said the combination of a new building with added space and an increased awareness in the community has resulted in the higher numbers.
“From the groundbreaking to the fundraising, we were able to get our name out there,” she said. “It’s important that people knew it was not just the Women’s Shelter, that we’re here, too — for everyone.”
While the main referral source is still such organizations as the Department of Social Services or other child protection services, Healy said the Visitation Center has also seen increases in other areas.
“We’ve gotten additional phone calls from people who have heard about us through word of mouth or from third parties,” said Healy, who estimates five new referrals come in every month. “There must be an added number of people referring us.”
Healy said the extra space only helps the Visitation Center’s mission to serve as a “middle party.”
“We just want to get the word out there that we’re here. We’re not going to deny you,” she said. “We want these children not to be in the middle of conflict. The more people can learn about us, the less that children have to be exposed to negative environments.
“We’re here to be that middle man — that middle party — so no children has to deal with that.”
With the one-year anniversary of the new facility approaching this summer, the Visitation Center is in the process of planning a get-together, Healy said.
“We are always promoting ourselves and trying to do our own fundraising,” she said. “Between our board members, we’re working on that goal for this year. We’re hoping to plan something on our own sometime this year.”
The Family Visitation Center can be reached at (605) 665-1204.