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Rural Health Information Hub

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 2020, Mitchell Area Safehouse answered 401 crisis calls, provided shelter for 169 survivors, and advocated for 239 survivors. The Safehouse assisted in 19 protection orders and provided advocacy to 17 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.
  • 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 13 education programs, which reached 125 individuals and traveled 4,410 miles.
  • Services provided: In 2020, Mitchell Area Safehouse answered 401 crisis calls, provided shelter for 169 survivors, and advocated for 239 survivors. The Safehouse assisted in 19 protection orders and provided advocacy to 17 sexual assault survivors.
  • Volunteers: A number of volunteer opportunities were offered, including direct services, donation and shelter upkeep, and fundraising and awareness. The Safehouse has 16 board members along with 16 individual volunteers for a number of 5,442 service hours.
  • Housing Program: During the pandemic, housing assistance numbers went up, from 64 clients last year to 97 clients this year in the emergency housing program. The security deposit program assisted 24 clients last year and 33 clients this year.

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 Hoffman, Outreach Shelter Coordinator
Mitchell Area Safehouse
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, 2021

Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2021. Mitchell Area Safehouse and Family Visitation Center [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/986 [Accessed 28 September 2022]


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