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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 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.

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:

  • 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
  • Financial and rental assistance available for qualified applicants

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
  • Support for victims/survivors of sexual assault

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

  • 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.

Challenges

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.

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 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 28 October 2021]


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.