TLC: Providing tender love and care for the children of Swainsboro



Harlem High School student Aubrey Oliver, daughter of Emanuel County dfcs Attorney, Marnique Oliver, and Derrick Oliver, graciously donated her beautifully detailed original painting to the newly renovated TLC Children Services Visitation Center in Swainsboro. Her painting was a senior art project for school and the final touches of the comfortable, newly completed family-centered area which is provided by the Emanuel County Commissioners. “We are extremely lucky to have the resources that we have, between the county commissioners, the Millcreek grant, and the involvement from the community itself.” Swainsboro’s TLC Visitation Coordinator, Mary Claire Brannen, said in high regards of the organization’s patrons.

Among the many new developments that the center offers, some include the inviting new furnishings that were bought with grants from the Millcreek Foundation and Advanced Metal.

The facility coordinates supervised visitation for children in foster care and their families as well as court ordered supervision for families involved in superior court by allowing parents or relatives to have an opportunity to continue to bond with their child or children while assuring the physical and emotional safety required by the court. The families can engage in a confidential, home like setting where snacks, games, and age-appropriate toys are provided.

“We offer direct, constant supervision to assure safety for the children, both emotionally and physically. It also enables us to guide the parents in parenting through positive reinforcement, discipline techniques and life skills.” Brannen explained. The space allows parents to have a comfortable atmosphere to spend time with their children and engage with them without distraction from cell phones. “That is Judge Sherri McDonald's order. She ordered from the bench that during visitation there would be no cell phone use, so we adhere to that order. We want parents to use the time to make their children a priority, that’s most important.” Brannen said.

The goals of the center are to promote family functioning and assure safe interactions between parents and their children. Parents are guided on an individual hands-on basis and encouraged to positively relate to their children. Parenting classes, parent coaching, life skills education, and drug screens are provided as support to the families. Staff also provides recommendations for access to community services.

“I have been very surprised at the level of engagement that the families have with their children. For them to sit down and play games and pay attention to the children and listen to what they have to say, I’ve been astonished by the difference it makes in the lives of those children.” Brannen added that the facility displays the pride felt by everyone in providing a very comfortable and engaging setting for the families to visit their children. “Our job is to try to accomplish the reunification of families or, if that is not possible, assuring permanency for children. We become very close to the families and can communicate well with them because sometimes they may have a bias against the Georgia Division of Family and Children’s Services due to their child or children being removed from their homes and many times we’re able to bridge that gap.”

If you’re interested in donating toys, games, books, or snacks to our TLC Children Services Visitation Center, you can contact their Visitation Supervisor, Candy Powers, at 912-245-9501.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller, U.S. author, educator, and disability rights advocate