The Our Kids Story
In 1985, a law was passed in Tennessee that mandated that any individual who suspects that a child is being sexually abused report those concerns to the authorities. Over the next two years, there was a 450 percent increase in the number of abuse cases reported to the Department of Human Services.
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Treating the Children
Although this law was crucial toward helping children who are victims of sexual abuse, it did not address the problem of treating these children. Hundreds of children were brought to Nashville General Hospital by Department of Human Services workers, police and parents. Since physicians typically are not trained for or experienced in dealing with sexually abused children, there was no resource available specifically to provide medical and psychological evaluations and related services for children and their families.
The Founding Partners
During this same period, the Junior League of Nashville, in response to its members´ concerns about child sexual abuse, began investigating the services that were available for children. The League determined the greatest need was to develop a system of care for children brought to General Hospital for medical evaluation of possible sexual abuse. The founding partners, the Junior League of Nashville, Inc., Nashville General Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, understood the value of having a core group of expert providers perform child sexual abuse evaluations and in 1987 began the work of Our Kids. The following year, a small group of committed Junior League volunteers formed a community board and developed a non-profit corporation to support the project.
A Warm, Child-Friendly Environment
With the guidance of the founders, community and corporate support and countless hours of volunteer effort, what began as a program operating with little more than 300 feet of space has become the Our Kids Center. With the opening of its first free-standing home in 1993 and its move to a larger facility in 2002, Our Kids services are provided in a warm, child-friendly environment. Today, as a result of the commitment of hundreds of individuals and a dedicated community, Tennessee’s children and families get compassionate care at the Our Kids Center.