Social service in Lockport helps parents and children with monitored exchanges and supervised visitation at no cost
Sometimes, life does not go quite as planned. No couple marries with the thought of divorce in their hearts. Unfortunately, in some instances, divorce or separation is a sacrifice made to procure a stable, healthy home environment, especially when there are children involved.
No matter how much one tries to protect a child’s feelings during or after a divorce or separation, they are affected. Changes in the family dynamics are inevitable. If there is tension, violence, or conflict, the negative impact affects children and parents on a far greater scale. Regrettably, where there is conflict, a parent’s focus might lean towards hurting the other parent; they do not stop to realize how they are affecting the children.
In cases such as these, parents can call on Lockport’s PACT (Parents And Children Together) Place to facilitate monitored exchanges and/or supervised visitation. This program is free to those who would like to use the services and provides a safe, secure, supportive environment for children, averting parental discord.
Pam Guedry is PACT’s Program Coordinator and brings with her an extensive background in anti-violence advocacy against women and children, which spans more than twenty years.
In 2009, Pam accepted a position offered by Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre to begin a monitored exchange / supervised visitation program in Lafourche Parish. When she did, she brought her methodologies, unparalleled patience, and an incredibly caring nature.
Guedry’s dedication earned her recognition last year with the 2016 Judith Wallach President’s Award by the Supervised Visitation Network for excellence in her field.
When asked what PACT means to her, Pam responded, “I feel PACT is a beneficial resource to families in conflict. Each safe visit is a success, especially for families with tough histories of violence and abuse. We are able to provide a safe location for the parent and child to see each other. Trained staff are with the family at all times to ensure that children are not put in the middle of adult conversations. Monitors listen for negative conversations or comments such as a parent making derogatory remarks about the other parent, talking about court cases, making future promises or even undermining the custodial parents parenting style.”
In addition to monitors, there’s always an officer on the premises.
“In addition to our safety measures PACT is unique in that we provide services to each component of the family: we work with the father, the mother, and the child. The staff is in a position to identify gaps in services that these families may need and therefore refer them to other resources in the community to ensure that they each have the tools needed for a healthy life. The center is designed so that parents never come into contact with each other to prevent any further conflict. Separate parking lots, separate entrances, and separate waiting areas assist staff in enforcing this policy. All children walk through our big red barn as a ‘transition’ from going from one parent to the other. The red barn leads into our visitation area where the other parent is waiting,” added Pam.
Upon entering the barn door, there is a well-appointed playroom, which contains just about every toy and game imaginable. Large, beautifully painted murals line the walls. There’s even an area with a WII, video games, and movies, which are all age appropriate and enjoyed by children while at the center.
For those with supervised visitations who prefer a quainter atmosphere, there are smaller rooms, which adjoin the great room. These rooms come furnished with age appropriate toys as well. A kitchen area is available with art supplies galore and a family dining table for parents and children to share a meal or even a birthday cake on that special day.
Whether court ordered or negotiated between the parents, PACT is a solution and can alleviate stressful, conflict driven issues for the greater good of the child.
The center also provides an excellent alternative to meeting in parking lots for exchanges and visitations. Parents who utilize exchange services at PACT say they have felt less anxiety during the exchange due to not having to see or speak to the other parent. In turn, children feel less anxious about the experience.
One parent stated, "The PACT Place is and always will be very near and dear to my heart. The staff was wonderful to my children and me for two years. Many families rely on their services for safe and peaceful exchanges and visits, as we did for so long."
The PACT Place invites the community to a candlelight vigil in support of those affected by domestic violence on Monday, October 23 at 6 p.m., which will take place at the Bayou Cajun Visitors Center on Hwy. 1 in Raceland.
P.A.C.T. Place, located at the Lockport Town Hall, offers several opportunities for visits and exchanges during weekday evenings and weekend days.
Remember this is a free service for parents, and a court order is not required to utilize services. All contact at The PACT Place is by appointment only. For more information on services visit www.lpso.net/pactplace. You can also contact 985-532-4390 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on Tue, August 22, 2017
by Holly McKeon, Contributing Writer