SDN Blog

Family Visitation Center safely connects parents, children

Posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 in Community

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Family Visitation Center Room Design

A teary-eyed woman named Tammi received a standing ovation recently after speaking to a meeting of SDN Communications employees in Sioux Falls.

She was neither a company leader nor a prominent client of SDN, the premier regional provider of broadband connectivity and related communications services for businesses and institutions.

She was a mother who talked about the challenges of surviving domestic abuse.

Tammi also shared her positive experiences with the Family Visitation Center, which is among the local nonprofit organizations supported by contributions to the Sioux Empire United Way.

The center has programs that help ensure the safety and well-being of children caught in the middle of situations such as nasty divorces, domestic abuse, substance abuse, or child abuse.

Tammi uses the center’s Connections program, which allows adults to securely transfer a child for visits without the risk of the child witnessing conflict between the two adults.

The center also offers an education program called Confident Parenting and supervised visitation services.

The facility at 311 E. 14th St. in Sioux Falls includes child-friendly visitation rooms stocked with games, toys and other activities to help children and their family members have a fun and memorable experience. Staffers help make sure the visits are safe.

The center’s objective is to provide children with positive memories of the time they spend with their parents, says Aaron Wimmer, executive director of the center.

“We want them to remember the positive things as they grow older,” he says.

Despite the protected environment that it provides, the atmosphere is upbeat. There are no outward signs of family strife.

SDN employees paint a room at the Family Visitation Center

A crew of volunteers from SDN recently helped the center by repainting one of the facility’s visitation rooms. They painted an uplifting winter scene in blue and white that includes features such as a snowman and snow-capped mountains and trees. The painting project was a gift to the center and the community in honor of SDN’s 25th anniversary.

Such charitable support is appreciated by clients such as Tammi and the center’s staff.

“SDN is a great and caring company that’s recognized in the community for its leadership in the United Way,” Wimmer says.

The center served more than 720 children in 2014 and has more than 30 kids on its waiting list. It would like to be able to serve every child in the community in need of its services. But support from the United Way and other donors haven’t been rising quite as fast as the demand for the center’s services. So donations would be welcome.

The center is one of 47 agencies partly supported by contributions to the United Way from employees of businesses such as SDN.

The Family Visitation Center got its start in 2000 with leadership of Avera McKennan, which was responding to a request from Sioux Falls Child Protection Council. 

The Volunteers of America – Dakotas and the Children’s Inn also helped launch the organization.

In 2009, with demand for services in the region growing, the center was incorporated as a nonprofit agency and took over management duties from Avera McKennan. Today, the center has five full-time and 14 part-time staff members.

  • About 60 percent of the families served by the center are referrals from the court system.
  • About 35 percent are referrals from the state’s foster care system.
  • The other five percent are families who heard about the services provided by the center.

Find out how to help the center through its wish list on the Family Visitation Center website.

Family Visitation Center Re-painting

Family Visitation Center - Finished Room