Mount Airy church begins custody center

February 09, 2003|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

St. James Episcopal Church in Mount Airy begins an outreach ministry this weekend, one designed to give children of estranged parents a haven from the conflicts surrounding them.

The church has opened what it calls a "child access transfer center." Parents who share custody of children can use the center as a neutral location where the children can move from one parent to the other with assistance from trained monitors whose sole focus is the child's welfare and well-being. The Children's Rights Council, a nonprofit advocacy group, oversees the St. James Episcopal Church transfer center and others in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

About 20 St. James parishioners have volunteered to staff the center on alternate Friday and Sunday evenings. Many of the volunteers have met with court officials and attorneys in the four-county area from which St. James draws and are seeking referrals from judges and family crisis groups.

The center includes separate rooms and entrances should parents not want to see each other during the process.

Information: 301-829-0325.

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