Montgomery County has opened a new center as part of its efforts to cut down on domestic violence.
The new Safe Passage Center will be a place for couples who have been ordered by a judge to not see each other due to domestic violence or other problems. They can use the center to safely exchange children they share or for one parent to visit a child under staff members’ supervision.
The center is in the Rockville area, although the county is not identifying its exact address due to privacy and safety concerns. People who use the center will be directed to do so by a judge.
The building has security guards, separate parking lots, entrances and waiting rooms to ensure that parents do not see each other at the site.
The center is designed to prevent confrontations between couples who have had domestic problems in the past. Court Watch Montgomery, an advocacy organization for survivors of domestic violence, advocated for the county to set up the center over the past year. The organization highlighted violent incidents in the past in which women and children have been killed or injured during unsupervised exchanges of children.
The county funded about $380,000 in the fiscal 2018 budget to establish and staff the center, which officially opened Nov. 17. It’s open 28 hours per week—including daytime hours on Saturday and Sunday—and can serve more than 80 families per week, according to the county.
Parents are not charged to use the center, which is operated by Family Services Inc.