Posted at: 10/08/2012 6:49 PM
By: Dan Conradt
Seibel Center To Benefit From Grant
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- When the doors opened, it was one of 13 centers of its type in the country.
Now, four years and more than ten thousand hours later, a six-figure grant is confirmation from the US Department of Justice that the Seibel Center in Austin is having an impact.
"No child needs to see a parent arguing or getting upset," said Austin Police Chief Brian Krueger.
But for many children, it was happening too often. That's where the Seibel Center comes in.
"The Seibel Center is a family visitation and exchange center," said the Center’s Amanda Stoa.
“For parents or couples that aren't always on the best of terms," added Chief Krueger.
“A lot of our cases either have to do with domestic violence or child protection issues," said Stoa.
The Seibel Center has been open for four years. Prior to that, parents would exchange children in parking lots, at fast-food restaurants or at other public locations. And since they are fueled by emotion, exchange or visitation situations often had an explosive potential.
"Couples that were having difficulties would meet here at the law enforcement center to do an exchange, and we had several full-blown domestics that would occur right here in our parking lot," said Krueger.
Since it opened four years ago, the center has logged over ten thousand hours of visitation time.
"For this year we're up to about 50 families," said the center’s Amanda Stoa
And in those four years, the number of domestic disturbance calls centered around child exchange or visitation in Austin has gone down by one-third
"And it's all because of the Seibel center," said police chief Brian Krueger.
And the long-term impact might he hard to measure.
"Children who do witness domestic violence in growing up, the boys are more likely to be perpetrators of violence as adults, and the girls are more likely to be in a relationship that is potentially abusive,” said the Seibel center’s Amanda Stoa
A $400,000 grant from the "Office of Violence Against Women" of the US Department of Justice will allow the Seibel Center to create a regional project to serve more families at-risk in the surrounding area.