You can make a difference: Erma’s House needs supplies for children

Keeping children safe has been the mission of Erma’s House Family Visitation Center for more than 20 years. A program of Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley (CSSMV), Erma’s House grew out of the community’s need for a safe, structured environment where children could have scheduled contact and maintain a relationship with their non-residential parents.

The special facility helps families interact in a safe and appropriate manner in a neutral setting focused on the children, with no interaction between the adult parents or guardians. The program includes both supervised visits and supervised exchanges. During supervised visits, staff or trained volunteers monitor and record the activity between the parent and the child. Supervised exchanges are also monitored, and are provided for parents who don’t wish to interact with one another when the child is being exchanged from one household to the other.

“The mission of Erma’s House is to assist and support Montgomery County children and families who have been affected by divorce, separation, abuse or neglect,” explains Catholic Social Services CEO Laura Roesch. “Erma’s House helps these children and parents to maintain or rebuild their family relationships through a program of safe, structured, and community-based visitation services.”

To utilize the services at Erma’s House, a family must be referred by a third party such as Montgomery County Children Services, a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), a guardian ad litem (GAL), a mental health professional or social worker, or the family or criminal courts. At least one of the parents/guardians must live in Montgomery County.

Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The agency also offers programs to help those who are in need regardless of their religion, ethnic background or socioeconomic condition. Additional CSSMV services include a food pantry, pregnancy and parenting support, professional counseling, refugee resettlement, senior services, and long-term tornado recovery assistance.

Here’s the wish list for Erma’s House:

  • Individually wrapped snacks like microwave popcorn, goldfish crackers, cookies, fruit snacks, pretzels and chips
  • Juice boxes
  • Paper towels
  • Clorox wipes
  • Liquid hand soap
  • Craft supplies such as Play-Doh, paint, dry erase markers, drawing paper, coloring books, markers, crayons, glue sticks and poster board
  • Board games
  • Card games
  • Puzzles
  • Holiday-themed children’s books

Donations can be dropped off between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday at Catholic Social Services’ Center for Families, 1046 Brown St. in Dayton. For more information or to arrange a drop-off time, contact Erma’s House Program Manager Shannon Wahrhaftig at (937) 586-9586.

Other ways to help

With a small staff, Erma’s House relies on a crew of well-trained volunteers to monitor weekly visits between children and parents. You can help local children and families by volunteering as a visitation monitor. This position requires a yearlong commitment, monitoring visits for a particular family once a week. For more information about getting involved, call CSSMV’s volunteer coordinator, Ashley Clark, at (937) 223-7217 ext. 1130.

Help celebrate!

Catholic Social services is hosting a free daylong Centennial Celebration at Riverscape in downtown Dayton from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25. The event will include live entertainment, food trucks, a wiffle ball home run derby tournament and Dayton’s biggest fish fry. For more information about Erma’s House, other Catholic Social Services programs and the celebration, visit or call (937) 223-7217.


Meredith Moss writes about Dayton-area nonprofit organizations and their specific needs. If your group has a wish list it would like to share with our readers, contact Meredith:

Please include a daytime phone number and a photo that reflects your group’s mission.

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