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Child Advocacy Center

In our Judicial Circuit approximately 3,000 allegations of maltreatment are reported annually and an average of 35 children removed from their homes monthly due to maltreatment.

GFNF4kids is working to create a Child Advocacy Center (CAC) to serve abused and neglected children from St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River and Okeechobee counties which makes up Florida’s 19th Judicial Circuit. Simply, the CAC is one location that will provide all needed resources for a maltreated child – everything from the initial forensic interview, physical exam to mental health resources and more. Our Judicial Circuit is one of three Judicial Circuits in Florida without an advocacy center for maltreated children and most CACs have been in existence since the 1990s.

Without CACs vs With CACs

Currently, in our judicial circuit a child is required to go to multiple locations to tell their story and receive needed resources. This creates even more trauma for a child. With a CAC, the child only needs to tell their story one time and receive all the needed resources in one location thanks to this multi-disciplinary team approach.

In addition to reducing the additional trauma experienced by a child, communities with CACs have a much higher prosecution rate and less time with cases lingering in the judicial system. An example of this is Gulf Coast Kids House (GCKH) -their prosecution rate went from approximately 10%-20% to 90% successful prosecution since the advocacy centers creation.

Since launching the project in January 2020 all major stakeholders in child welfare and law enforcement have come together in support of the CAC, are working in collaboration and completed a Memo of Understanding for Uniform Protocol for 19th Judicial Response to Crimes Against Children. Plus, many individuals and companies have already invested their time and talent to help with this project - Richard Tambone, Architect Peter W. Jones, Jeremiah Baron, Remnant Construction and Jason Yarborough, CEO, Baron Real Estate to name just a few – providing their services free.

Senator Gayle Harrell and Representative Dana Trabulsy have been provided details about the need for a CAC and toured the future site. Both are in support of the CAC and funding. We are

also working with Courtney Calderone, Legislative Affairs Grants Coordinator, St. Lucie County Government. Congressman Brian Mast has also been briefed, toured and in support of a CAC as well.

GFNF4kids has raised $500,000 since January and requires an additional $500,000 to complete the interior buildout of the CAC plus an additional $580,000 for the first years operations cost. GFNF4kids has secured a 10-year lease with Baron Commerce Center just off I95 in St. Lucie West. This location is central to the entire 19th Judicial Circuit. With additional financial support of community members, local philanthropic foundations, and a Florida Senate Local Funding Initiative, GFNF4kids will be serving children by early Fall 2021.

A major celebration event Saturday, March 6, 2021 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm will kick off the ‘birth’ of the Child Advocacy Center and the beginning of the interior build out. More than 200 individual guests are being invited which will include all major stakeholders in our four (4) counties including all law enforcement and dignitaries plus the celebration will be open to the public. GFNF4kids has more than 4,000 individuals within our e-mail database staying abreast of the CAC’s progress and other initiatives impacting youth.

Since our January launch to create the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) here on the Treasure Coast, GFNF4kids has accomplished the following:

  • More than $300,000 dollars of in-kind services from individuals and companies invested and passionate about this project. Tambone Companies, Architect Peter W. Jones, Remnant Construction and Jeremiah Baron & Company to name just a few.
  • Raised $500,000 for the build out which is estimated at $950,000. The build out should begin late February or early March 2021.
  • Signed a 10-year lease from Baron Commerce Centre, LLC for building located at 8563 South Commerce Centre Drive, Port St. Lucie, FL 34986 which is central to the entire Judicial Circuit. Lease will begin February 2021.
  • Developed blueprints for the interior buildout thanks to Architect Peter Jones
  • Planning a fundraising and awareness event for Saturday, March 6th more information will be announced. Carrie Morgridge of Morgridge Family Foundation will be our guest speaker. She has already committed $283,000 toward the buildout.
  • Developing strategies to bring in even more funds, such as offering room dedications at a certain price point, Giving Tree, etc.
  • Working with local CBC (Communities Connected for Kids) and legislatures for State Appropriation to cover build out costs. Given that the Brevard received $1.5 million to build out a new CAC (and they have had a CAC since the ‘90s), we feel confident that we will receive some funding, but not until late 2021 or early 2022
  • Working with Cleveland Clinic Martin Health to sponsor equipment and supplies for Sexual Assault Exam Room and Physical Abuse Exam Room.
  • Met with and received support from all major Stakeholders – more than 27 agencies – and working in collaboration with all.
  • Developed a Memo of Understanding (MOU) for Uniform Protocol for Coordinated 19th Judicial District Response to Crimes Against Children in collaboration with all stakeholders – headed by State Attorney, 19th Judicial Circuit
  • Have the support of Senator Gayle Harrell, Representative Dana Trabulsy and Congressman Brian Mast.
  • Launched social media -link to one… https://vimeo.com/454095111
  • Launched GoFundMe campaign (https://charity.gofundme.com/donate/project/child-advocacy-center-for-abused-and-neglected-children )
  • Working directly with Florida Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers (FNCAC) Executive Director and Board Member. Plus, other CACs in Florida
  • Reached out to over 75 various organizations and celebrities for support and followed up with a ‘progress report’.
  • Interviewed on WPTV which aired September 26, 2020 interview which aired on WPTV (https://www.wptv.com/news/region-st-lucie-county/port-st-lucie/guardians-for-new-futures-local-non-profit-planning-child-advocacy-center-for-the-treasure-coast-hopes-for-support )

To learn more, visit our website www.gfnf4kids.org

Debbie Butler

[email protected]

Cell: 772.359.2824

Guardians for New Futures, Inc., President

Supporting the unfunded needs of maltreated and underserved youth