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Mitchell Area Safehouse and Family Visitation Center

Summary 
  • Need: To provide victims of domestic violence a safe space, advocacy, education, and family support services.
  • Intervention: The Mitchell Area Safehouse and Family Visitation Center in rural South Dakota provides emergency/transitional housing, support groups, and community education.
  • Results: In 2018, Mitchell Area Safehouse answered 1,061 crisis calls, provided shelter for 206 survivors, and advocated for 847 survivors.

Description

Established in 1984, the Mitchell Area Safehouse in rural Mitchell, South Dakota, provides 24/7 emergency and transitional housing for adults and children who are escaping situations of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. The facility uses security cameras and an alarm system that connects directly to police dispatch.

MAS logo

Established in 1996, the Family Visitation Center (FVC) provides a safe location for children in abusive situations or whose parents are determining custody rights. The FVC serves as a neutral location for children being picked up by parents with visitation rights or for monitored visitation at the Center (for cases of documented or suspected abuse).

The Safehouse and Family Visitation Center serves the following rural counties:

  • Aurora
  • Davison
  • Douglas
  • Hanson
  • Hutchinson
  • Jerauld
  • Miner
  • Sanborn

Services offered

The Safehouse provides:

  • Hotline: 605.996.4440
  • Temporary emergency shelter
  • Food, hygiene products, diapers, and other immediate needs
  • Weekly support groups for adults and children
  • Community education to increase awareness of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault
  • Domestic Abuse Intervention Project: a 27-week program for those who abuse others
  • Family support services

In addition, trained advocates provide:

  • Assistance with protection orders (also called restraining orders)
  • Housing assistance (financial and rental assistance available for qualified applicants)
  • Referrals to agencies/programs that address medical, mental health, and legal needs
  • Referrals for education and employment opportunities
  • Transportation for those looking for housing/employment or fleeing the area

The Family Visitation Center also provides:

  • Common Sense Parenting Classes: This 6-week session helps parents teach their children skills like self-control and other positive behaviors.
  • S.M.I.L.E. (Start Making It Livable for Everyone): This 2-hour class teaches separated or divorced parents how to help their children adjust in a healthy way.
  • Responsive Parenting Classes: This 6-week session teaches parents of infants and toddlers about early brain development and social-emotional growth.

Results

In 2018, Mitchell Area Safehouse answered 1,061 crisis calls, provided shelter for 206 survivors, and advocated for 847 survivors.

The Family Visitation Center served 35 families and provided 148 assisted exchanges, 188 supervised visitations, and 104 supervised telephone calls.

In addition, the organization provided 24 education programs, which reached 947 individuals and offered 34 community awareness events.

Mitchell Area Safehouse has 16 board members, 29 volunteers, and 6 services groups, all of whom completed a total of 6,509 service hours in 2018.

Barriers

There is a perception that domestic violence and sexual assault don't happen in small towns. The Safehouse is working to provide more community awareness on these issues.

The FVC services are so important for children in the area; however, visitation services have very limited federal or state funding. The continuation of the FVC is more and more dependent on funding from the community.

Replication

Community support and networking with other social service agencies are crucial.

Contact Information

Coleen Smith, Shelter Director
Mitchell Area Safehouse
605.996.6622
coleen@mitchellareasafehouse.org

Topics
Abuse and violence
Families
Housing and homelessness

States served
South Dakota

Date added
November 14, 2017

Date updated or reviewed
November 1, 2019


Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.