In some cases, the Michigan courts may approve supervised visitation to a parent who is a risk to harming his child. Michigan received $1.1 million in funding for the Safe Havens: Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Grant Program in 2011. Michigan was one of only four states to receive the financial backing.
When the state court determines the safety of the child is in jeopardy if visited by a parent who can't be trusted, a supervisor might be assigned. A supervisor is only assigned if the court has determined that less-invasive means of parental visits are too dangerous for the child's safety. This type of visitation may result from a father who sexually assaulted one of his children, or a mother who is a substance abuser, for example.
The supervised child visitation must be at a location where the supervisor has full vision of the parent and child at all times. Once the parent and child meet, all physical contact must be initiated by the child, unless approved by the Michigan Family Independence Agency. The parent must speak loud enough so that the supervisor can hear. Any discussion with the child about abuse or any manipulation is strictly forbidden.
People eligible to supervise the visits are limited to a friend of the court office, a representative from a counseling center, a representative from the family and children's services offices, or a representative from the substance abuse or other treatment centers. These people have special qualifications that are recognized by the court, and they are trained to follow procedures if the visit causes harm to the child in any way. The supervisors might be joined by people who are able to physically protect the child.
According to the Michigan Department of Human Services, the desire for power and control over a partner tends to increase when families are separated. This is because the offender feels he has lost control over the situation and is desperately seeking to regain his grip. Visitation time is sometimes used to offend the partner and try to regain control. For this reason, the supervision isn't only for the child but also for the partner who may be present.