Erma’s House, a Catholic Social Services child protection program, grew out of this community’s desire for a safe, structured environment for supervised visitation. It was recommended by the Child Protection Task Force in 1995 and opened its doors in 1997.
The special facility provides a safe, home-like environment, enabling youngsters to have scheduled contacts and exchanges with their non-residential parents in a neutral location.
“The mission of Erma’s House is to assist and support Montgomery County children and families who have been affected by divorce, separation, abuse or neglect,” explains Catholic Social Services executive director Laura Roesch. “Erma’s House helps these children and parents to maintain or rebuild their family relationships through a program of safe, structured, community-based visitation services.”
Children and their parents interact in the comfort of six age-specific rooms designed to promote positive interaction and communication between the parents and children. Families are referred to Erma’s House through Montgomery County Domestic Relations Court, Montgomery County Juvenile Court, Children Services and social service agencies. The house is open to non-Montgomery County residents when space is available.
More than 900 families have been served at Erma’s House since the program’s inception; approximately 40 families and 62 children from birth to age 18 are currently being served on a weekly basis. Volunteer monitors are trained to observe and document parent/child interactions during the visits. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer call (937) 586-9586.
Here’s what they can use:
- Individually wrapped snacks such as microwave popcorn, goldfish, cookies, raisins, fruit snacks, pretzels, chips, etc.
- Craft supplies such as play doh, paint, dry erase markers, construction paper, drawing paper, coloring books, markers, crayons, glue sticks, beading, stamps, poster board
- Batteries of all sizes
- Board games
- Wii games
- Children’s books, new or gently-used and for ages ranging from infants to teens
- Juice boxes
- Paper towels
Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Catholic Social Services’ Center For Families, 1046 Brown St. in Dayton. For more information or to arrange a drop-off time, contact Erma’s House program manager Shannon Wahrhaftig at (937) 586-9586.
Established in 1921, Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley offers assistance to people in need regardless of religion, ethnic background or socioeconomic condition. In addition to Erma’s House, the agency’s programs include a food pantry, pregnancy counseling, international and domestic adoption services, a counseling center, parenting education, refugee resettlement, senior outreach and caregiver respite, coordination of home care options for seniors and early childhood education.
Other ways to help: Catholic Social Services has two fund-raising events coming up in November. The Concert of Caring, featuring the ultimate Billy Joel tribute band, The Stranger, is on November 7 at the BMI Indoor Speedway and Concert Venue in Versailles. The 19th Annual Jazz Party is set for Nov. 21 at the Moraine Country Club in Dayton. Visit www.cssmv.org/events for more information or to purchase tickets.
Visit www.cssmv.org for more information about Erma’s House and other programs offered through Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley.
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