When you participate in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, every step helps us provide vital programs to women, girls, and families in Hamilton.
One of those programs is our Family Access Centre – an essential program that helps connect families while keeping women safe.
As a recent CBC Hamilton article explains, the Family Access Centre offers a neutral place for families to arrange court-ordered visits between parents and children. Parents can arrange for supervised visits onsite, or use the Family Access Centre as a pickup and drop-off location when children are in shared custody.
The Family Access Centre provides protection for women who may otherwise have to meet their ex-partners face-to-face at potentially unsafe locations – like a gas station or parking lot – to exchange custody of their kids.
“Women are feeling the pressure to deliver their children unsupervised,” said Daniella Bozur, YWCA Hamilton’s manager of supervised access services. “It creates a really unsafe situation.”
However, as CBC Hamilton reports, the Ministry of the Attorney General has not provided a funding increase in 12 years – and demand for the service continues to grow.
And now, thanks to Covid-19, the wait time is likely to increase. The pandemic means that only one family can visit at once, instead of the group visits that had been taking place before Covid-19. Staff will also need extra time to clean toys and sanitize surfaces between visits.
Before the pandemic, there was already an 18 to 24-month waiting period for the Family Access Centre – the longest in the province.
Once school starts, Daniella expects that will also create an increased need for the service as children come forward about abuse in the home.
“I would definitely anticipate that we would see more domestic violence cases in the coming months,” she said.
“The sad and scary part is that typically disclosures come when kids have contacts at school, or dance class, or with a trusted adult. We know that domestic violence on the rise – and when things start to reopen, we are going to need those additional supports.”
With your help, we can continue to meet the needs of families through our Family Access Centre. Events like Walk a Mile in Her Shoes support our life-changing and life-saving programs and services, including the Family Access Centre, and help us combat issues of homelessness and violence against women and children.
If you’re interested in other ways to contribute to our Family Access program, we are currently accepting donations of toys that will be easy to sanitize between visits. You can find our wish list below.
And, as always, thank you for helping us improve the lives of women, girls, and families.