In spite of very tight budget constraints for next year, the Montgomery County Council unanimously agreed to increase funds for safe visitation services for FY ’20.  Judges can now prevent all contact between victims and offenders and make sure that children are safe during visitation by continuing to send families to the Safe Passage Center for all visitation.  The final County Budget includes a $175,000 increase in funding for the Safe Passage Center, beginning July 1 (2019).


The additional funds will enable the Safe Passage Center to meet the large demand for supervised visits by splitting one visit room into two.  They will also expand their hours of service from 28 to 38 hours/week. To be accepted as a Safe Passage Center client, families must be required to use their visitation services by a Montgomery County court, either as part of a protective order or custody case.

Prior to the creation of the Safe Passage Center, many children from Montgomery County were killed during unsafe visitation exchanges between a victim and the abuser or during visits that should have taken place in a supervised setting.

Similar services that allow domestic violence victims to truly have “no contact” with their abuser and that make sure that children’s’ safety is monitored during visits are also needed in the Germantown and Silver Spring areas.  Service providers and several Montgomery County government offices are already looking for an appropriate County-owned site which could be added as a second safe visitation center in next year’s budget.

Many victims or their ex-partners currently lack manageable transportation to the Safe Passage Center in Rockville. Some victims who are denied a protective order or don’t have transportation are essentially forced to exchange the children themselves, which sometimes results in assault or even homicide. Other victims rely on friends or family to transfer the children so they can avoid dangerous contact with the offender, but this often leads to extensive communication between the victim and offender to sort out logistics. Constantly changing plans create opportunities for ongoing conflict and risk of abuse.