FOUR WAYS TO GET BACK TO SCHOOL SAFELY WHEN USING A CUSTODY AGREEMENT
For some parents and their children, the back-to-school season is exciting.
It is full of gathering new school supplies and meeting new teachers; for others experiencing domestic violence, back to school can be very stressful, full of fear and unknowns. With schools opening their doors all over the country these next few weeks, it is crucial to ensure all families have what they need to feel safe and supported heading into the school year. To help prepare families for this transition, we are giving you four ways to be ready to head back-to-school safely.
First, any parent experiencing intimate partner violence should reach out to their local advocacy organization. Connecting with an advocate will ensure a support person outside of family and friends, and advocates are specifically trained to provide resources and help create a safety plan.
A safety plan that accounts for the school year transition will include tactics on how to engage with school personnel and review any agreements regarding parenting time. Advocates can also assist parents with young children in creating a safety plan for the child or help older children develop their own. Having a clear safety plan will ease some of the stresses and unknowns that back-to-school season presents.
Second, don’t be hesitant to access C4DP. In addition to providing safety planning services, we can help parents connect with community resources that can help provide school supplies, clothing, medical and dental check-ups, food, and some even offer financial assistance. Financial stress can increase safety risks if the survivor parent must solely rely on the abusive parent for financial assistance.
Third, if a parent wants to change something about an existing court order – such as a holiday schedule – prepare your court documents sooner rather than later. Family courts move through cases slowly and courts are still playing catch up from the Covid-19 case backlog. Your local advocacy organization can help you create a plan for moving forward. A plan may include contacting a local attorney or legal aid, attending a self-representation clinic, and might involve the possibility of mediation. Another great resource is the Legal Self Help Center. Law librarians can also help direct you to legal information that you can use in your case.
Fourth, the most important thing you can do as a parent experiencing intimate partner violence during back-to-school time is to provide the best support to your child, and plan for your safety by leveraging the support systems around you.
BACK TO SCHOOL TOOLKIT
1. Safety Planning
• Create a safety plan for yourself.
• Create a safety plan for your child(ren).
• Share the child’s safety plan with any support people named in the child’s plan, including teachers.
• Know the school start and end times, as well as the bus schedule (if applicable).
2. Copying Court Orders
• Provide a copy of civil protective order to the administrative office and teachers.
• Provide a copy of any custody or parenting time order to the administrative office and teachers.
3. Open Communication
• Communicate who has access to school records directly to administrative office and teachers.
• Communicate who has pick up privileges directly to administrative office and teachers.
4. Support Systems
• Reach out to any mental health professionals if necessary to help ease the school year transition for the child(ren).
• Leverage community resources.