Our Parent Education Program and SAFE Services Program services are designed to ensure the safety and well-being of children and help families in conflict or crisis improve their quality of life.
Our goals are to…
~Provide a nurturing environment in which parents learn better parenting skills~
~Provide a safe, secure place for supervised visits and exchanges~
Our services exist as they do today because of Annie and her children, Levi and Emma, or rather, because of the circumstances that took their lives. Though we began as The St. Vrain Valley Parenting Center, founded as an umbrella of Parenting Place in Boulder in 1998, to offer parent support and education to promote the healthy development of children, we became much more after obtaining our 501(c)(3) in October of 1999. On January 26, 2000, Annie, along with six-year-old Levi and fifteen-month-old Emma were killed by her ex-husband when she dropped the children off for a visit with their father. This tragedy prompted community representatives from our agency, Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley, Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, the Longmont Police Department, the YMCA, and private psychologists and attorneys to come together as a task force to address the critical issue of how escalating violence between separated and divorced parents was affecting the children in those families.
Since 2001, our Parent Education and SAFE Services Programs have emphasized both the prevention and intervention of the trauma and harm children experience due to domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, conflict in divorce, and a myriad of other risk factors. We are the only non-profit agency in Boulder County offering SAFE Services. Though we were not there for Annie, Levi, and Emma, we have been here providing prevention and intervention for hundreds of mothers and fathers taking our education classes and for the families who have participated in thousands of exchanges and supervised visits.
Through our Parent Education Program we support and educate parents in order to prevent neglect and abuse and encourage nurturing parenting that will promote healthy child development. Our Positive Parenting class is a court-approved curriculum with an emphasis on the prevention of abuse and neglect. Love and Logic (English and Spanish) provides practical and easy-to-use techniques to help parents with children of all ages. Boot Camp for New Dads inspires and equips men to become confidently engaged with their infants and children, support their mates, and navigate their transformation into dads. Our Young Moms and Young Papas Support Groups provide support to young women and men 23 years of age and younger.
Numerous studies have been conducted on parental at-risk factors and the relationship of these factors to parenting skills. For example, Buehler and Gerard (2002) found a positive association between marital conflict and child maladjustment and harsh discipline and that marital conflict led to less parental involvement (Journal of Marriage and Family 64(1), 78-92). Other studies have focused on parent training for parents with at-risk behaviors such as mental health problems or being abusers. Both Adams (2001) and Bavolek (2002) demonstrated positive impact on parenting skills for parents with at-risk factors.
Our SAFE Services Program addresses two major issues. Through our SAFE Exchanges we deal with the issues associated with conflict between parents. Exchanges consist of parents dropping off and picking up children with a 15 minute interval between the exchanges so there is no meeting between the two adults. The opportunity provided by SAFE Exchange services is to eliminate triggers between the two parents that could have unhappy, unsafe, and harmful impact on the child. Supervised Parenting Time (SPT) addresses the issue of families in crisis where parenting is an issue. In providing this service, our staff observes and records these observations of non-custodial parents’ interactions with their children for periods of one to two hours during visits at one of our three sites. The opportunity we provide with this service is the elimination of re-victimization of the child by the parent.
Research regarding evidence-based practices for this program is in its early stages with very little data available. However, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) has recognized the importance of Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Programs. OVW states that these programs, among other things, protect children from the trauma of witnessing domestic violence or experiencing abduction, injury, or death during parent and child visitation and exchanges and protect parents or caretakers who are victims of violence.