Child & Family Services of Northwestern Michigan, located in Traverse City, launched Safe Haven in 2012, a supervised visitation and exchange program for families affected by domestic violence. Now, Child and Family Services has opened its second Safe Haven, this one in Mancelona, Michigan.

Safe Haven allows children to spend time with non-custodial parents in an environment that’s safe and supportive. In situations where parents can’t see or talk to each other without conflict, Safe Haven is a vital resource, says Child and Family Services’ Gina Aranki. “With Safe Haven, children are effectively removed from the middle of their parents’ issues, and the possibility of violence is greatly diminished,” Aranki says. “That gives families an opportunity to begin to heal from some of the trauma they have experienced.”

As the only program of its kind in Northern Michigan, Safe Haven serves 15 counties—which is why it was a huge victory for Child and Family Services to open a second Safe Haven facility this past year, in Mancelona. Breaking down the transportation barrier allows more people to access Safe Haven—which, as Aranki says, is profoundly important: “For some women, Safe Haven has literally saved their lives.”