Last year, 1,578 children who were impacted by allegations of sexual abuse, physical abuse, or neglect in the Greater Lakeland area received care from our local Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC).

With April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, it’s important to highlight the resources in our community that are helping prevent child abuse and neglect. CHS’ Children’s Advocacy Centers provide counseling, medical services, and crisis intervention to help kids who’ve suffered find their first glimmer of hope. Our centers are a safe space for children to talk about what happened with trained counselors and forensic interviewers who are compassionate and sensitive to children’s physical and emotional pain.

These services are needed now more than ever.

“The demand for Victim Advocacy Services has increased since the pandemic and since 2019 there was a 30% increase in the number of cases closed with verified findings of child sexual abuse,” said David Acevedo, Children’s Home Society of Florida’s Director of CAC and Child Protection Team in Lakeland.

David and his team work around the clock to help children  cope with and overcome the trauma of their experiences, educate the community about child abuse and neglect prevention, and  treat young abuse survivors.

Throughout Florida, we must band together to support families today to prevent child abuse tomorrow.

Luckily, there are many ways you can help.

How to help

Foster Care

Foster families provide stability, hope and healing for children in the midst of uncertainty. If you’ve been thinking about opening your heart and your home to children in need, click here to learn more about becoming a foster parent.

Spread the Word

Knowledge is power and the more that people know about child abuse and neglect, the better we  get at preventing it. Davis also serves as co-chair for the Child Abuse Death Review Committee in Lakeland.

“The two leading causes of preventable deaths in children is from drowning and unsafe sleeping practices, Said David. “Sadly, Polk County saw an increase in both since the pandemic started.”

The CHS Child Protection Team works to educate the community about child safety and reduce harm to children wherever possible. Whether by proclamation, through social media, with graphics, or through other means, spreading the word about child abuse prevention lets your community know they can take action to strengthen families and help them thrive.

If you see something, say something

The Florida Abuse Hotline accepts reports 24 or exploitation of a vulnerable adult. hours a day and 7 days a week of known or suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Speaking up could make a life-saving difference.

More ways to get involved

  • Donate to support child abuse prevention
  • Volunteer to keep families safe, strong and together
  • Purchase safety items from our wishlist
  • Advocate for CHS

National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to strengthen families to prevent child abuse and neglect. Your support allows children to grow up in healthy, nurturing, and safe homes.