A Safe and Caring Place for Children
In Seminole County, a group of community leaders, including Sheriff Don Eslinger, recognized a gap in protection and healing services for abused children. “As a law enforcement agency, we saw firsthand the need to have a readily accessible place in our community that could provide immediate and direct services to abused and neglected children. It was an honor to be part of the original collaboration,” Eslinger said.
In 1999, Kids House was founded with the mission to prevent child abuse and aid abuse victims by providing coordinated services in a safe and child-friendly environment from report and investigation to treatment and resolution. Eslinger presented a request to the Seminole County Commission to provide such a facility and to use a building that had been utilized for an undercover drug operation by the sheriff’s department.
The facility, named in honor of the Wayne M. Densch Charitable Trust, Inc., is a family-friendly environment where the needs of children come first. The décor is designed to make the children feel as comfortable as possible through their ordeal, with a playroom with toys for all ages, books, movies, craft activities and an outdoor playground. The interview rooms are inviting and kid-friendly, while being equipped with advanced video and audio recording devices to gather the best possible evidence for use at trial.
The medical exam rooms have cheerful themes to calm and delight children of all ages and are staffed with a physician assistant and advanced registered nurse practitioner that conduct forensic medical exams, provided by Florida Hospital. Kids House is also home to the Seminole County Child Protection Team, staffed with case coordinators who are specially trained in interviewing children. All partner agencies are present and able to work together effectively and efficiently at a single-site location, which ultimately reduces the need for a child to repeat their story over and over again.
The philosophy at Kids House is to treat the “whole child.” The team approach allows for all those involved – agencies and victims – to come together at one single facility, working together on a complete investigation that includes case history, sharing of information and ideas, assisting with prosecution and determining the best course to provide emotional and psychological well-being for the child and family. The team approach significantly reduces further trauma and distress.
For more than a decade, Kids House has been a safe and caring place where children who are victims of abuse can find compassionate care and healing. “Kids House provides a safe place where victimized children are not forgotten and receive treatment services they need for healing,” said Ernest Hamilton, executive director.
Kids House is staffed with individuals whose compassion and dedication is apparent in everything they do. In 2012, Kids House was able to help and heal over 2,000 children, and the organization continues to do so today.
Kids House of Seminole, Inc.
5467 North Ronald Reagan Blvd,
Sanford, FL 32773
Tel. (407) 324-3036 | kidshouse.org