Creating a Safe Haven

Tree House is a 24 -hour emergency shelter for the abused and neglected children of our area. Tree House is for children who are two to twelve years of age, and the primary goal of the organization is to provide a home-like environment for the children.

Unlike other homes, Tree House works to keep sibling groups together whenever possible to minimize further disruption for them. In addition to providing shelter and care, Tree House provides counseling in order to give these children a chance for a “normal” life. In conjunction with these services, staff members provide child advocacy services to protect the rights of the children.

Tree House was the vision of the late Patty Yancey and June Strauss, both loyal children’s advocates.  With local children being sent as far as Pensacola and Jacksonville, they worked to create a local shelter to increase the number of children served – and the first Tree House was opened in 1985. Tree House owns two homes in undisclosed locations in Leon County. Administration and staffing of the homes are handled by our partners at Children’s Home Society.

Opening the first Tree House

The first Tree House opened Thanksgiving Day 1986. The four-bedroom home was purchased for $95,000 and then renovations we made, including adding a garage and an additional bed and bath in a separate suite for what was then live-in house parents. In the early days, the group hired a married couple who were supplemented with shift workers and awake-night supervision.

Providing for the children

Tree House was structured with three entities since early conception. The state money helped fund the beginning organization. When Tree House took a child in, the state would pay to care for them. Children’s Home Society (CHS) bid to run Tree House’s management of the children. The arrangement consisted of state of Florida funding, Children’s Home Society doing the work (they were licensed and insured) and the community organization to supplement the state funds and cover the home.