Q1: What should I do if I know I’m going to be late or can’t keep my scheduled appointment at the center?
A: If you are running behind due to work delays, car problems or traffic congestion; call the center director and let them know you are on your way and when you expect to arrive. Staff will ask if the other parent is able to wait until your arrival. If you cannot keep your appointment at all, you should contact the other parent (if there isn’t a “no-contact” order in place) to make other arrangements (if possible). You should also contact the center director or supervisor, during the center’s business hours, the day of your appointment and briefly explain your circumstances and if notification has been made to the other parent. You may bring a written explanation for the record on your next visit.
Q2: What if the other parent does not consistently arrive on time or is repeatedly absent?
A: If the other parent is often late or fails to bring your child(ren) to the center, you may courteously discuss the issue with the other parent in private (if there isn’t a “no-contact” order in place), or you may ask a staff person to intervene to learn the cause of the problem and help resolve the issue. While staff cannot direct the other parent to comply, CRC may offer written or verbal evidence to the Court of a parent’s violation of the order. If the problem persists, you may need to notify the Court.
Q3: If the other parent makes threatening statements or gestures to me or I suspect abuse of my child(ren), what should I do?
A: If you at an access center, you should immediately remove yourself from the situation and notify the center director and/or security personnel. Staff will promptly assess the situation and contact local police authorities if necessary. In certain instances, CRC will report to the Court details of the circumstances, outcomes, and any corrective recommendations. However, CRC can only respond to issues that arise at the center. The agency is not authorized or qualified to address any legal or personal issues you may have with the other parent.
Q4: What is the Children’s Rights Council and what is the relationship with the Prince George’s County Circuit Court?
A: The Children’s Rights Council (CRC) is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization serving families and at-risk youth for more than 20 years, long working to promote a society where laws, attitudes and public opinion affirm that “The Best Parent is Both Parents”®. Organized to serve the public purpose of advocating the healthy development of children, CRC strives to minimize the emotional, physical and economic distress of children at-risk because of parents involved in highly conflicted custody and access disputes. At the request of the Court, CRC is contracted to provide court-ordered access services for both parents; report on the progress of parental cooperation; and provide written and verbal compliance with court orders.
Q5: May I have copies of logs or reports for use in court?
A: Yes, as they pertain strictly to you and your child(ren). You must make your request at the Center to the Center Director, accompanied with Request for Release of Information Form. While the services of CRC are free, the copies are not. You can ask the Center Director about the copying and processing fees should you need detail after viewing the Schedule of Fees.
Q6: Is there a fee for use of the Safe Haven Program (access centers)?
A: There is no charge to either parent for use of access services. The Prince George’s County Circuit Court primarily funds the Safe Haven Program as part of its system of community services. You are however encouraged to join the Children’s Rights Council where you may receive additional resource information, referral services, and parental support to help strengthen your role as a loving, nurturing, responsible parent.
Q7: How does lunchtime work when participating in supervised access with my child(ren)?
A: The center does not have a lunch room for parents participating in supervised access. You may however, bring in meals from home or order foods delivered to share with your child(ren) in one of the private rooms. During good weather conditions, you may also enjoy your meal outside, but you may not leave the premises.
Q8: When is it okay to bring a relative to the center for supervised access?
A: Only those persons identified by the court order are allowed to accompany a parent during supervised access. However, in certain instances the center director may allow a relative to participate if the Court has not forbidden such access and the other parent has given their permission. Certain allowances can be made. Ask the Center Director in advance.
Q9: How do I introduce a new, important male or female partner to my child(ren)?
A: Consistency is important to children. Until a parent has prepared the groundwork by talking with their child(ren) about major life changes, CRC makes the recommendation not to introduce a “significant other” at the center. If the parent and child(ren) believe they are ready to accept such changes, a formal request should be made to the Court to adjust the access order.
Q10: May I bring special items such as a toy or small pet when participating in supervised access?
A: There are toys and games available for your child(ren)’s use at the Center, but you may also bring personal items, including a particular toy. Be sure however, to take the item with you after the session unless you have the other parent’s agreement to allow the child(ren) to bring the item home with them. Except for certified service animals, pets (whether caged or leashed) are not allowed in the center.
Q11: Are cell phones allowed?
A: Cell phones are not allowed. Children are not allowed on cell phones either. If a parent needs to make a call, he/she needs to use the Center phone.