Family Pathways steps in

Family Pathways staff discussed the new areas of focus for the organization.

• Part 1 in  a series

Family Pathways CEO Lisa Mears said that the safety services wing of the organization she leads is ready to step into the gap left by the departure of WINDOW Victim Services

For the past 30 years, WINDOW Victim Services provided advocacy services for crime victims in Pine, Carlton and Kanabec counties. Now Family Pathways has received a two-year, $1.1 million contract from Minnesota’s Office of Justice Programs, to provide victim services in that three-county area.

At a community meeting Mears noted that Family Pathways has been a longtime provider of those services around east central Minnesota and western Wisconsin – and that they have already been doing some of that work in Pine and Kanabec counties.

“We did domestic violence programming in Kanabec and Pine,” Mears said. “Our domestic violence services [include] a crisis line and community and legal advocacy.

She also noted that Family Pathways supports Black Dog Shelter – the only emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence between Duluth, the north metro and St. Cloud.

“We also provide supervised visitation for noncustodial parents,” Mears said. “The other part of that programming is a batterers intervention program. It is a 26 week, court-ordered program for batterers as a part of their probation or sentencing. It is meant to break the cycle of violence and we have a very low recidivism rate for that.”

Mears said the contract gives Family Pathways new opportunities to help the victims of domestic violence.

“It opens up Carlton County for us and supports the work we have been doing in Pine and Kanabec – and allows us to put more staff in all of these counties,” she said. “We are in WINDOW’s old space but we are going to be moving a few doors down because the owner is allowing us to rent out the new space that is being built out/customized for our work. We will have, in Sandstone, a parenting time center right next to our food shelf. We are in the process of retrofitting that space right now. We are in the city of Carlton too. We will also have offices in Mora.”

She said they are currently looking for space in Pine City to be able to support victims and offer “parenting time centers” for supervised visitation.

“If anybody knows of any space to house two community advocates, please, we’re desperate,” she said.  “We have been trying so very hard.”

Family Pathways services can be contacted through their 24 hour crisis line at 1-800-338-7233.

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