Sheriff Craig Webre, Judge John LeBlanc and other members of the P.A.C.T. Place Advisory Committee pose for a photo with Bea Hanson and Michelle Brickley from the OVW.
From left to right: Debbie Triggs (South Central Louisiana Human Services Authority), Geralyn Pitre (Lafourche Parish District Attorney’s Office), Tamara Joseph (LPSO Police Social Services), Bea Hanson (OVW), Felicia Hill (The Haven), Judge John LeBlanc (17th Judicial District Court), Michelle Brickley (OVW), Sheriff Craig Webre, and Pam Guedry (LPSO – P.A.C.T. Place).
On Wednesday, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre welcomed Bea Hanson, the Principle Deputy Director of the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, for a visit to the P.A.C.T. Place Supervised Visitation and Exchange Center in Lockport. Judge John LeBlanc and other members of the P.A.C.T. Place advisory committee and staff were on hand as well to speak with Hanson. The visit took place following Hanson’s address to community leaders in New Orleans Wednesday morning, part of the OVW’s nationwide tour in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act.
“I was excited to be able to add this stop to the OVW’s national tour,” said Hanson. “The P.A.C.T. Place is a perfect example for the nation of how law enforcement can take a leadership role to address the need for safety for victims of violence and their children.”
Supervised visitation and exchange centers are not typically operated by law enforcement agencies. The P.A.C.T. Place is an exception, and may be the only such center operated by a law enforcement agency. The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office funded the creation of the center through an OVW Safe Havens Grant awarded in 2007, and a subsequent continuation grant in 2011 kept the center open through the Fall of 2014. The OVW recently awarded a grant through its Justice for Families Program to fund the P.A.C.T. Place’s operation through February 2017.
“On behalf of our agency and the community, I would like to thank Mrs. Hanson and the Office on Violence Against Women for the opportunity to utilize this grant funding,” said Sheriff Webre. “It takes passion, drive and commitment to sustain a program of this nature, and we are privileged to have a staff and advisory committee who truly embody all those qualities. I especially want to thank Judge LeBlanc for his avid support. It is the committee and staff’s devotion to this cause that enables us to provide these outstanding services to the community.”
P.A.C.T. stands for Parents and Children Together. The mission of the P.A.C.T. Place is to provide a safe, secure and supportive environment for supervised visitation and monitored exchanges to occur in an effort to prevent further impact of domestic violence on children and their abused parent. The center is designed to ensure that both parents remain separate, so that contact between them never occurs. The P.A.C.T. Place provides a child-friendly atmosphere for children to visit with their non-custodial parent.
P.A.C.T. Place Director Pam Guedry said ensuring that victims of violence and their children are safe is the staff’s highest priority. “The P.A.C.T. Place visitation program provides an opportunity for children to safely visit with and maintain a relationship with their non-custodial parent,” said Guedry. “As a visitation program, we are able to interact with each member of the family – mother, father, and child. This gives us a unique opportunity to identify needs and gaps in services to ensure safety of victims in our community. Lafourche Parish has great resources and we are fortunate to be able to collaborate with many of them on this project.”
Since opening its doors in October 2009, the P.A.C.T. Place has provided services to over 200 families affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence. To date, the P.A.C.T. Place has hosted 1,350 supervised visits and 1,003 monitored exchanges. As the only visitation center in the region, these services are provided free of charge to the residents of Lafourche, Terrebonne, Assumption, St. Charles, and Jefferson parishes. For more information about the P.A.C.T. Place and its services, contact Director Pam Guedry at (985) 532-4390, or visit www.LPSO.net/PACTPlace.