Supporting Parent Reunification With the Help of Imagination Station
The Makulinski Foundation was created with a vision to help drive our community forward. Since 2014, MFF has contributed over $88,000 to help Lucas County Children's Services and the Toledo non-profit science center Imagination Station provide families working towards reunification with more fulfilling supervised visitations.
The Challenges of Parent Reunification
When children are removed from their parents due to abuse or neglect, it doesn't have to mean the family unit is destroyed forever. Many parents go on to receive treatment for drug dependencies or mental health conditions, helping them become more stable, safe, and loving parents. However, reunification is fraught with challenges—especially when it comes to supervised visitations.
Supervised visitations allow parents and children to spend time together in a safe and controlled setting. These visitations often occur in an agency setting and are overseen by social workers.
Such an inorganic setting can feel awkward for parent and child, and it's not uncommon for parents to watch passively as their children play alone on the floor for the duration of the visit.
This kind of interaction makes it difficult for parents and children to enjoy each other's company. Successful visitations should help heal the parent-child attachment and offer opportunities for parents to regain essential parenting skills needed for sufficient care.
How Imagination Station Helps
In an effort to provide parents and children with a more natural setting to improve the quality of visits, Lucas County Children's Services began teaming up with community partners like the non-profit science center Imagination Station.
With the help of Imagination Station workshop leaders, the LCCS Family Visits department began to sponsor structured, interactive programs for parents and their children to enjoy together.
From building catapults and launching rockets, parents and children work as a team to complete fun activities. These hands-on opportunities help improve parent-child interactions and provide a much-needed sense of normalcy and levity during a difficult time.
These optional workshops are scheduled at peak visitation times throughout the week and last about two hours. Informal surveys of participating parents suggest that 84% rated their visit as very good or excellent, and more than half of parents reported that the workshops made them more likely to participate with their children during visits.
After one year of successful workshops, the LCCS decided to sponsor supervised visits to the museum for families attempting reunification. The Imagination Station museum is just down the street from LCCS and offers a far more organic setting for parents and children to bond and regain a sense of normalcy together.
An Innovative Partnership With Lucas County Children's Services
With matching donations from The Makulinski Family Foundation and Toledo-based company Lockrey Manufacturing, Imagination Station can offer discounted tickets to families (just $1 per person) and free passes for caseworkers.
LCCS caseworkers cite the program as a phenomenal success for strengthening families on their caseloads.
The program instills confidence in parents, who have the chance to stretch their parenting muscles while having fun and offering their kids an opportunity they couldn't otherwise usually afford. Parents can also practice being organized and actively monitoring in a low-stakes environment.
Join Us In Making A Lasting Impact
For more than ten years, Imagination Station has offered downtown Toledo a space for families to engage together in learning, entertaining, and inspiring through science. STEM contributes to life skills development and is essential to the community and the future of every STEM field.
You can join us in helping make a lasting impact on the lives of children and families by making a donation. Your gift will help Imagination Station create even more opportunities for parents and children to learn, grow, and bond together.
Click here to find an Imagination Station program you love and offer your support.
- Article by Amanda Kern (October 2022)