The Judge Ben Gordon, Jr. Family Visitation Center was established in 1997 in response to a group of child advocates which included: Child Psychologists, the Guardian Ad Litem Office, 1st Circuit Court Judges, Social Workers, Domestic Violence Victim Advocates, representatives from the State Attorney’s Office and local Clergy. This group was unified in their assertion that the child and adult victims in this community were being put at risk during Court ordered visitation and exchanges of children. The Family Visitation Center answered the need to provide a safe structured environment for families during times of crisis which often include the potential for violence and abuse.
The potential for revictimization of abused children and other victims of domestic violence is increased dramatically when perpetrators are permitted to have contact with their victims. This danger presents a need in all communities to provide a safe haven. The Visitation Centers achieve this by providing a structured and safe environment in order to protect these vulnerable victims.
An additional facility was opened in an effort to meet the needs of the communities in North Okaloosa and Walton Counties. This Center is under the administration of the Judge Ben Gordon, Jr. Family Visitation Center, but carries the name The Friends of the Family Visitation Center and is located in DeFuniak Springs.
To create a safe and nurturing environment for family visits and exchanges.
To provide supervised visitation and safe exchanges for children affected by abuse, neglect and domestic violence.
The purpose of the Family Visitation Center is:
- To assure the safety and welfare of the child, adults and center staff during supervised contact.
- To enable an ongoing relationship between the non-custodial parent and child by impartially observing their contact in a safe and structured environment and to facilitate appropriate child/parent interaction during supervised contact.
- Where appropriate to provide written information to the court regarding the supervised contact.