OAK HARBOR — The Joyful Connections Board of Directors held their annual retreat at the Joyful Connections Facility in Oak Harbor recently, and focused on plans for “2022 and Beyond,” after receiving an important overview and update from Trevor Johnson, Ottawa County Diversion/D.A.R.T. Officer, and heard from Stephanie Kowal, Director of the Ottawa County Department of Job & Family Services.
After reviewing notes from previous board retreats, Executive Director Tami Matthews queried the current board. “What does it look like to be the premier supervised Visitation Center in Northwest Ohio?” She asked.
Board members were quick to list all the positive things that have already been accomplished from a new, larger facility in 2019, video and phone visits beginning in 2020, and, most recently, an outdoor play area.
The board discussed the future of Joyful Connections, said Matthews. One of the first priorities was the opportunity for people to complete parenting classes while also participating in supervised visitation. Three Joyful staff members have completed the nationally recognized
“Nurturing Parenting Coaching” program with another staff member scheduled for training in March.
“Parenting is tough and doesn’t come with a user manual,” said Kowal. “Even if you take a class or read a book, there will be parenting moments that don’t fit neatly into the plan. Many parents that Job and Family Services works with have found themselves in a situation where their visits need to be supervised, for a variety of reasons.
“We work with them to address safety and parenting concerns through classes and programs, but they don’t currently have a support system in place to practice those new ways of relating to their child. The program that Joyful Connections is planning to pilot will support parents with coaching and mentoring while they visit with their children in a safe environment. We are so pleased to see this service be a part of what we can offer to our children and families.”
Other items discussed included improved community awareness of the importance of Joyful Connections and supervised visitation, a trained and licensed therapy dog to make difficult visits a little bit easier, an added raised garden bed in the outdoor space to teach visiting children about the environment and healthy eating, and a possible satellite location in Port Clinton.
Joyful Connections is a local agency that provides supervised visitations and exchanges in a child-focused, healthy, safe, and home-like environment where children can interact with family members in a non-judgmental setting. For more information about services provided or are interested in making a donation, call 567-262-3181 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.