Seibel Center making strides in community

Published 6:32 am Thursday, July 15, 2010

It exceeded its three-year projection in one year, it cut Austin’s domestic cases in half, and this Monday the Michael H. Seibel Family Visitation and Exchange Center will open its doors to the community.

The center is designed to provide a safe setting for custodial and non-custodial parents to visit with their children. It also provides a safe space for parents to exchange custody of children.

When the center began three years ago, it set a three-year plan to facilitate an average of eight exchanges and 13 visitations each week. Since opening in August of 2008, the center has provided 5,000 hours of direct service for 289 parents. The center has completed 1,275 hours of visitation and 574 hours of exchanges since last year alone.

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“Our primary focus is maintaining a safe environment for children, whether it be for visitation reasons or exchange reasons,” said Heather Steinkamp, director of the Center. “Really, we’re that safe haven where we keep children out of the middle.”

Since the center’s opening, deprived parental rights cases have dropped 55 percent, domestic cases have dropped 33 percent and family domestic cases dropped 31 percent.

“The center has helped us tremendously,” said Det. Brian Krueger. “I believe it has definitely helped bring those cases down. I think both law enforcement and the city have benefited from the center.”

The center will host an open house from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday for members of the community.

The next open house after Monday will be a Princess and Queens Tea Party on July 26th. Call the center at 507-434-7550 to register.