Kristi House was first organized in 1994 by community advocates to address the critical need in Miami-Dade County for specialized and coordinated services for child victims of sexual abuse, resulting in its founding as a not-for-profit in 1995. The volume of clients in the first year of services far exceeded initial expectations, so Kristi House leaders fundraised, built and opened in 1999 its Child Advocacy Center building to co-locate Center partners.
In subsequent years Kristi House opened its four satellite offices for easier client access, as well as the Project GOLD Drop In Center for youth who have been commercially sexually exploited, the first specialized center for trafficked children in the state. Last year Kristi House provided more than 1,400 children with case coordination, therapy and assessments.
A steady stream of clients comes to Kristi House via a referral system built over the past two decades with law enforcement, schools, Department of Children and Families, University of Miami Child Protection Team, Guardian ad Litem, Rape Treatment Center and the State Attorney’s Office. These agencies make up the Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) of the Children’s Advocacy Center.
Designed and built based on the national best practice model for Child Advocacy Centers, Kristi House’s main facility is centrally located in the Health District of Miami and on major public transportation lines. It is in a prime location for serving low-income and underserved children and families in the heart of Miami. It is in close proximity to areas with high rates of families living below the poverty level, experiencing unemployment and other economic hardships, and with high incidences of STDs, teenage pregnancy and youth in need of trauma-informed services. Satellite offices in the north and south, and a centrally located Drop-In Center provide easier neighborhood access for clients.
Our initiative since 2016 to better serve Deep South Dade—an area in dire need of child sexual abuse and child sex trafficking services—has been successful in opening an office in Naranja in January 2017, and a Homestead office in early 2019. We have three full-time positions established in Deep South supported by a combination of public grants (SAMHSA, The Children’s Trust) and private foundation support (Peacock, Florida Blue, Ocean Reef Community Foundation). The Krys Visionary Challenge of 2018-19 is enabling the Homestead opening and added transportation route and staff.
Along with culturally competent, evidence-based practices, Kristi House has an exemplary track record for fiscal management and stewardship. Finances are independently audited with no corrective actions in the past 17 years. Kristi House has been accredited by National Children’s Alliance since 2000, and by Council on Accreditation since 2004.
Kristi House has a strong track record for program development, having served 16,750 children and their non-offending family members since founding, and having delivered education and training programs to more than 112,000. We were the first Child Advocacy Center in Florida and one of the first in the country to address child sex trafficking, and we authored the state’s Safe Harbor Act which became law in 2013. We were the first in Florida to attain membership in National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the preeminent national body for child trauma, and the first (and only) Center in Florida to receive two multi-year federal SAMHSA awards ($3.6 million, 2012-2021) to address child trauma.
Finally, Kristi House is a leader among the 850 Child Advocacy Centers in the country, operating programs and providing evidence-based services with University of Miami and Florida International University partner-researchers continually evaluating processes and client outcomes. We operate several federal grants and are considered a leader in mental health and child sex trafficking intervention.