The Custody Exchange Service provided by Hearts and Homes offers separated or divorced parents a supervised and safe environment for drop-off and pick-up of their child or children. The Family Advancement Specialist acts as a neutral third party and facilitates the transfer of the child or children between conflicted parents in accordance with a parenting plan or legal arrangement. The exchanges take place in a welcoming, home-like environment which is equipped with unobtrusive video surveillance cameras for added security.
The Hearts and Homes exchange service ensures that children of highly conflicted parents are not placed at risk of emotional or physical harm during transfers. Custody exchanges can be difficult for children of all ages, but are made easier when disagreements do not happen in front of the child. It is normal for some children to show some resistance to going from one parent to another. Parents can assist their children by understanding their feelings but encouraging them to have a positive relationship with the other parent. The monitor can assist by distracting and playing with the child. Exchange monitors are sensitive to the child’s circumstances. Any evidence of abuse or neglect will be reported to Child Protective Services.
Appointments can be scheduled for regular or one-off custody exchanges. In a typical transfer, one parent brings the child to Hearts and Homes. The exchange monitor stays with the child in a comfortable room with child-friendly toys and books and the first parent leaves the facility. The second parent arrives fifteen minutes later, ensuring that there is no contact with the first parent. The exchange monitor transfers the child to the second parent’s care. The return transfer of the child takes place in the same way at the end of the agreed period.
At all times, the Family Advancement Specialist gives priority to the interests and well-being of the child. This includes checking that the parents are generally appropriate in their interactions and do not appear to be influenced by chemicals, drugs or alcohol. The exchange will be cancelled if the visitation monitor has concerns about a parent. The other parent will be contacted, and the child will be returned him or her. Personnel are trained to provide unbiased & safe custody exchange services, and will maintain records of the transfers.
Families are referred by counselors, Child and Family Services, courts, attorneys, police, and human service organizations. We also encourage self referrals by those who believe they could benefit from the service. Program Fees: We charge a fee of $25.00 per transfer. Intake appointments can be made by calling 406-585-8544, Monday thru Friday, from 9am to 4pm.
Pick-up and drop-off arrangements can also be arranged by Hearts and Homes staff.