Lashell Brown loves to see families reconnecting. “I enjoy seeing the smiles on kids faces and smiles or even happy tears on the faces of parents. Sometimes they haven’t seen each other for two week or two months – or maybe they’ve never even met. We’re helping to provide a way for these families to get back on track.”

Lashell serves as the Director of the Supervised Visitation program at CAPS, a position she took eight years ago. “When I started, I had a staff of seven and we served 25 families a week. Now we have 16 program staff, and we see 85 families a week.” Lashell attributes some of this growth to the additional available space when CAPS moved into its new facility a few years ago, but she adds monthly referrals to the program have doubled since 2020.

“At CAPS we’re all about keeping kids safe. In the Supervised Visits program, we want the custodial parents to know they can trust us to protect their children. We also want to give visiting parents the chance to prove they can act appropriately when given the opportunity. Our facilitators help move them in the right direction, developing their parenting skills by offering tips and suggestions during their visits.”

Lashell’s goal is to give visiting parents the chance to do “normal” things with their children, like playing board games together or fixing a family meal in the CAPS kitchen. She goes the extra mile for families, buying pumpkins for decorating at Halloween, providing Thanksgiving dinners, and photo opportunities with Santa around a decorated tree at Christmas. “I’ve had parents tear up during our orientation sessions when I mention these activities. They love the idea, and it’s not something they were expecting when they were referred.”

Lashell recently received a letter from a dad who spent two years in the program. He acknowledged that he felt supervised visits were not ideal when he started, but expressed appreciation for the opportunity to prove himself when no one else was going to give him that chance. He was initially fearful of his child’s reaction to his attempts at parenting during visits, but their relationship grew and developed. He ended his note by thanking Lashell – he now has full custody, his child is doing great in school, and they have a great relationship.

“I don’t often get thank you letters like that” says Lashell with a smile, “but when I do, it makes it all worthwhile.”

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