The Children’s Advocacy Center Osceola says, “Every Child deserves to grow up feeling safe and loved.” That would seem to be an expectation that we could all have for the children in and around the Osceola County community, but sadly, it’s not that simple. According to the National Children’s Alliance, one out of 10 children will experience some form of sexual abuse or sexual assault during their childhood. Children’s Advocacy Centers, like Osceola County’s help child victims heal.

April is Child Abuse and Prevention Month, and last week, the Children’s Advocacy Center Osceola (CAC of Osceola) officially opened its new facility with a ribbon cutting and guided tours for community leaders, elected officials, law enforcement agencies, and local media. The new three floor state-of-the-art secure facility, designed to provide the most comfortable space possible for children and families during a time of crisis when there is abuse discovery, is located at 704 Generation Point in Kissimmee, just behind the Council On Aging, another advocacy-based agency that brings safety, care, and protection to a large sector of the Osceola Community.

“It’s really a pleasure to see so many of our community partners here who have embraced the mission of the Children’s Advocacy Center. The Osceola County Commission’s history with the CAC has been longstanding and we have always supported the center’s effort to add a layer of vital protection to the young and vulnerable members of the community,” Osceola County Chairwoman Viviana Janer shared during the ceremony. “The opening of the new CAC is a testament to Osceola County’s commitment to the safety and well-being of its community members, particularly children.”

Viviana Janer Cheryl Grieb
CAC Chuba
Glen Casel Embrace Families

The Children’s Advocacy Center Osceola is one of over 939 community advocacy centers in the United States, serving nearly 665 children annually, enough to fill over 30 elementary school classrooms. Along with partners like Orlando Health, whose caregivers at the CAC of Osceola proudly wear their “healing Tree” name tags,  the Children’s Advocacy Center Osceola works to reduce trauma to children and families during the course of a formal child protective services and law enforcement investigation, and during a tour that Positively Osceola had the opportunity to take after the ribbon cutting, we were able to see how the CAC of Osceola’s specialized treatment makes that possible.

The Osceola County Children’s Advocacy Center Task Force came into existence in 2001, led by the Kissimmee Police Department, to address the need for children in Osceola County to have access to needed services following the identification of possible abuse. Child victims and their families were often forced to travel outside of the county for medical exams and forensic interviews. In addition, very little local supports or advocacy services were available for these families in crisis.

President/CEO of Embrace Families Glen Casel said, “We want to call out a special thanks to our good friends Marie Martinez, Michelle Ball, and the child protection team at Orlando Health. The commitment of Orlando Health to keep the services for Osceola children here in Osceola County has been unwavering over the years, and they’re such a great and valuable partner.”

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Osceola has made it possible for victims and their families to be helped locally, and with the opening of the CAC of Osceola’s new facility, child abuse survivors and their non-offending caregivers and family members can find compassion help, hope, healing, and restoration in Osceola County on an even higher level.

The grand opening ceremony, which was led by Joy Chuba, Executive Director with Embrace Families, also featured Osceola Chairwoman Commissioner Viviana Janer, and Commissioner Cheryl Grieb. Osceola Commissioner Brandon Arrington also participated in the ribbon cutting.

“On behalf of the CAC of Osceola, I would like to extend a special thanks to the entire county team who worked on this project from inception to completion,”  Executive Director Chuba shared prior to the ribbon cutting. “The children and families who have visited the CAC in the last few weeks in operation have commented how valued they feel having this space available in their home community and all the services that we offer here.”

“This is something that’s very special to all the county commission in Osceola County, and having such a beautiful place, a safe place, a welcoming place for families to come with their children and get the help that they need,” Osceola County Commissioner for District 4 Cheryl Grieb said prior to the ribbon cutting.