Mitchell Area Safehouse and Family Visitation Center
- 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 2019, Mitchell Area Safehouse answered 887 crisis calls, provided shelter for 169 survivors, and advocated for 729 survivors. The Safehouse assisted in 34 protection orders and provided advocacy to 11 sexual assault survivors.
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.
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:
The Safehouse provides:
- Emergency Crisis Hotline: 605.996.4440
- Temporary emergency shelter for victims/survivors and their children escaping domestic violence
- Community education to increase awareness of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault
- Weekly domestic violence support group for adults
- Domestic Abuse Intervention Project: a 27-week program for those who abuse others
In addition, trained advocates provide:
- Assistance with protection orders (domestic, stalking, and vulnerable adult)
- Referrals to agencies/programs that address medical, mental health, and legal needs
- Referrals for education and employment opportunities
- Safety planning
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.
- Outreach: The Mitchell Area Safehouse in rural South Dakota provides services to eight rural counties. There were 40 education programs, which reached 296 individuals and offered 24 community awareness events.
- Services provided: In 2019, Mitchell Area Safehouse answered 887 crisis calls, provided shelter for 169 survivors, and advocated for 729 survivors. The Safehouse assisted in 34 protection orders and provided advocacy to 11 sexual assault survivors.
- Volunteers: A number of volunteer opportunities were offered, including direct services, donation and shelter upkeep, child and youth services, and fundraising and awareness. The Safehouse has 16 board members along with having 13 individual volunteers and 6 services groups for 5,128 service hours.
- Family Visitation Center: In 2019, the center served 56 families and provided 754 hours of supervised visitations, telephone calls, and exchanges.
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 need for FVC services is important for families in crisis, especially those experiencing domestic violence. Visitation services have very limited federal or state funding and are underutilized by the community. The continuation of the FVC is more and more dependent on funding from the community.
Community support and networking with other social service agencies are crucial.
Abuse and violence
Housing and homelessness
November 14, 2017
Date updated or reviewed
November 3, 2020
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2020. Mitchell Area Safehouse and Family Visitation Center [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/986 [Accessed 19 January 2021]
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