Xchange Place in Lufkin closing its doors to children and parents

LUFKIN , TX (KTRE) - The Board of Directors for Xchange Place, a non-profit, safe environment for separated parents to exchange their children in Lufkin, has voted to close due to a lack of funding.

"If this place closes it's going to be like a part of me died because I have put a lot of heart and passion into this place and I don't want to walk away from it," Executive Director Dorethia Howell said earlier this month.

Her worst fears have come to pass and Xchange Place is closing its doors March 15.

Board President Matt Massey said between now and mid-March, Xchange Place will handle only essential visits.  He said it was a tough decision to close, but one that had to be made due to lack of funding.

Xchange Place is a non-profit organization that hosts supervised, court-ordered visitations between divorced or legally separated parents and their children.  Howell said the center is a neutral ground for feuding parents.

Some have argued that there's no longer a need for this service now that public places have become popular spots for exchanging children.

Angelina County District Judge Barry Bryan is a proponent of Xchange Place.  He said Xchange Place provides a more secure area and a mediator in the case feuding parents have to be monitored during the exchange.

Bryan was instrumental in developing Xchange Place.  "I would hate to see them have to close their doors, knowing that there will be children that will either not be able to safely visit with their parent or will be visiting in a situation that's not safe for the child because there's no other alternative," Bryan said.

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