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New Brown County Family Center opens

By Lauren Waters

GREEN BAY – It’s the duty of Brown County Child Protective Services to look out for the best interests of the children and families in the community.

Part of the job is to provide court-ordered supervised visits for children in out-of-home care with their non-custodial parents.

When the current visitation facility wasn’t meeting standards, teams from around Green Bay decided to join forces and make big changes.

In a collaborative effort by teams from Leadership Green Bay, Brown County Health and Human Services Department, Friends of Pals, Youth and Families, NeighborWorks Green Bay and the Capital Credit Union Young Professionals, families will now have a better place to spend quality time together.

On Friday, June 28, the group held a news conference and ribbon cutting for the grand opening of the Brown County Family Center located at 1076 St. Agnes Drive in Green Bay.

Glen Tilot, community liaison for Brown County Health and Human Services, shared his excitement of the new facility.

“This is a day I will never forget for the rest of my life,” he said. “And this is a project that I will never forget.”
Tilot said he believes this new Brown County Family Center will be the premier family visitation center in Wisconsin.

“This extraordinary Leadership Green Bay small group project will impact generations of children and families,” he said. “This truly is a project where the stars were aligned for everything to come together and I am profoundly proud.”

Executive Director for Brown County Health and Human Services, Erik Pritzl, said almost 40 supervised visits happen every week, and these family interactions are vital for maintaining strong bonds between children and their parents.

Prior to the opening of the new facility, these visitations took place in office spaces, which was not an ideal setting, he said.

“I would walk down the halls and see families in the conference rooms sharing meals, playing games and having great times together,” said Pritzl. “But I looked at the environment and thought – we can do better than this.”

Pritzl said his department then proposed an initiative to develop a visitation house that is a more natural, homelike setting for children to be able to spend time with their parents.

The goal was to find a place where families could visit together, prepare and serve meals in the kitchen and play outside in the yard, all while being supervised by staff.

“Basically we were going to find a space that is where we would want to be if we were in that position,” said Pritzl. “Then you look at this facility and we are so far beyond what was captured in that initiative.”

After the initial plan was in place, the teams gained serious momentum when they received a donation from Capital Credit Union, as well as other donors in the community.

The teams were able to raise over $200,000 in less than a month, meeting the project goal.

The group then brought in NeighborWorks Green Bay President/CEO Noel Halvorsen and his team to help purchase and remodel the property.

Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich and Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach shared praise of the different teams of people involved.

“I don’t know how to thank the team in terms of what you were able to accomplish with this today,” said Streckenbach. “It gives me a lot of hope that as we tackle some of these challenging aspects that we’re responsible for managing, we’re not standing alone, we’re here as a team.”

Though the team has reached its fundraising goal, if members of the public are interested in donating, the Brown County Family Center is still seeking in-kind items for the facility.

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