Our Mission, History, & Values
The mission of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center is to prevent child abuse and reduce its devastating impact.
The San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center was created in 1998 when two long-standing organizations, the San Francisco Child Abuse Council and the TALK Line Family Support Center, formally consolidated their programs in a renovated firehouse in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. The two founding organizations have a rich history of serving San Francisco’s children and families in need. In 1973, Dr. Moses Grossman, Chief of Pediatrics at San Francisco General Hospital, created the San Francisco Child Abuse Council, which was supported by an initial grant from the Rosenberg Foundation. The following year, Dr. Grossman and the Council established the TALK Line (Telephone Aid in Living with Kids), a 24-hour parental stress crisis line funded by the Junior League of San Francisco. In 1976 the TALK Line became part of the Family Service Agency of San Francisco. With the purchase of an historic, Victorian firehouse in 1987, the two services were able to come together under one roof.
The San Francisco Child Abuse Council
Since 1973, the Child Abuse Council has worked to develop policies and best practices regarding child abuse cases, including developing written protocols for the handling of physical and sexual abuse cases for all Bay Area hospitals. The Council has advocated for local and state legislation as well as improved systems of response to child abuse, including the establishment of a Child Abuse Unit in the District Attorney’s Office, a Juvenile Division in the San Francisco Police Department to handle child abuse cases, and the Moses Grossman Child Abuse Protection Center at San Francisco General Hospital. The Council also helped to establish a Bay Area Coalition of Child Abuse Councils to coordinate and share resources in education and public awareness activities. Today, a major focus of the Council’s work in providing education and training to schools, PTA’s civic organizations and professional groups about the prevention of child abuse and neglect, both in and out of the home. The Council continues to play an active role in coordinating child abuse services across San Francisco, working closely with multiple organizations, committees and task forces.
The TALK Line Community Support Center
The TALK Line Family Support Center, which began as the TALK Line in 1975, was established by the San Francisco Child Abuse Council to offer parents somewhere to turn for support while parenting. In addition to crisis counseling, services initially offered included short- and long-term follow-up, advocacy and referrals to community agencies and home visits. The additional components of today’s TALK Line Family Support Center were created in response to the unmet needs of parents who called the TALK Line seeking help. The TALK Line Family Support Center grew and improved over the ensuing years thanks to the guidance of critical leaders like Patsy Jones and Anita Moran. The Center’s Respite program began in 1977, under the direction of Maria Eitz, to provide emergency voluntary shelter for children whose parents were in crisis and was designed to help keep children out of foster care. In 1979, the Single Parent Network was created in response to the high number of single parents seeking services. An evening group continues to meet weekly at the TALK Line Family Support Center. Comprehensive substance abuse services and homeless family prevention services were established when these two pressing needs were identified by parents calling the TALK Line. Counseling and parenting help were offered in response to the stated needs of parents who wanted to stop the cycle of abuse and neglect in their families.
Despite the existence of multiple services, the absence of a centralized home for these programs remained a major obstacle to families who often needed to avail themselves of several of these services either at once or over time.
The Child Abuse Prevention Society
In 1982, Lois Pavlow (community leader and children’s advocate), Kathy Baxter (San Francisco Child Abuse Council) and Patsy Jones (TALK Line Family Support Center) joined forces to unify child abuse prevention services under one roof and to create a space where parents could come with their children to utilize services or simply to get a break. Their vision included a permanent home for the TALK Line Family Support Center with drop-in space, rooms for counseling services, group rooms and child care. Under the leadership of Lois Pavlow, the Child Abuse Prevention Society (CAPS), a separate supporting organization, was formed to raise the resources for a center that would unify San Francisco’s various child abuse prevention services. Later, the Auxiliary of CAPS, a separate supporting organization, was formed by Linda Cannon to raise additional resources and public awareness for a center that would unify San Francisco’s various child abuse prevention services. In 1987, their vision was finally realized with the purchase of the Waller Street firehouse that remains home to the TALK Line Family Support Center and the Child Abuse Council. Together, the three organizations transformed an old firehouse into a safe refuge for parents and children; a place wholeheartedly dedicated to assuring the prevention of child abuse and neglect, the promotion of healthy families and the mental health of children.
The San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center
In 1998, the TALK Line Family Support Center and the San Francisco Child Abuse Council formally consolidated their programs with the help of the Board of Directors of the Child Abuse Council and long-time supporters Sue Wollack, Evie Talmus and Sarah Brown to form the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center (Prevention Center)
In 2007, the boards of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center merged with the CAPS, which also transferred ownership of the Waller Street building to further strengthen programs and services available to the city’s children and families. Today, the Prevention Center provides supportive services to children and families; education for children, caregivers and service providers; and advocacy for systems improvement and coordination.
A Refreshed Home on Waller Street
We are also very pleased to announce long-awaited capital improvements to our historic former firehouse. In the summer of 2013, our Family Support Center temporarily re-located as our home at 1757 Waller Street was renovated. Our primary location has been well used—and well loved—for years. Though welcoming, the building had layout and space issues common in historic facilities, including poor lighting and ventilation, and inadequate soundproofing in clinical spaces. ADA accessibility for clients was a long-held dream. Over the period of several months, thanks to our supporters, our building was renovated to be more welcoming, safe, and sturdy well into the 21st Century. Improvements include seismic strengthening and code-compliance throughout the building; ensuring ADA accessibility of the front door and first floor bathroom; improved soundproofing and lighting in counseling rooms; improved traffic flow; improved first floor/client kitchen; and enhanced meeting spaces to accommodate the agency’s clinical and administrative needs. We returned to Waller Street in October 2013, and our clients and staff are thrilled with the improvements.
The Children’s Advocacy Center of San Francisco
Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) are child-friendly, accredited, multidisciplinary facilities that are proven effective in treating and supporting the most vulnerable and at-risk kids, harnessing child protective services, law enforcement, legal, victim advocacy, and medical and mental health professionals. Every major city in the U.S. has a Children’s Advocacy Center. As of 2014, finally, San Francisco has one too.
Creating a centralized, full-service, and accredited CAC was an unrealized dream in San Francisco for years. Though the city boasts world-class expertise and services, support for child victims of sexual or physical abuse were often fragmented, running the risk that children could slip through the cracks or remain unsupported after abuse and trauma occurred. Navigating the system was twice as hard for families in crisis.
The City knew that it needed to take a proactive approach. The Prevention Center has achieved the City’s long-held dream of creating a collaborative, multidisciplinary CAC to provide best-in-class, multidisciplinary care to children who have suffered abuse, neglect, or exposure to violence. Working together, the Prevention Center and City created a public-private partnership that harnesses expertise in a centralized location, with shared goals, continuous communication among agencies, and a dedicated staff. The CAC draws together public and private partners to assess, investigate, evaluate, and follow each case of suspected abuse, and to collaborate on treatment of victims and their families.
Years in the planning, our CAC officially opened its doors for forensic interviews and other services in February 2014. We are co-locating with the Center for Youth Wellness and CPMC’s Bayview Child Health Center in one centralized location: 3450 Third Street, Building 2 in San Francisco.
We are Committed to Serving Children and Families.
Every child should be cherished, nurtured, taught the skills and given the opportunity to grow up in a safe and healthy environment in which basic needs are met and reaching full potential is achievable.
Parenting is hard and all families can use support. Families need a place to be safe. Support needs to be family-focused and appropriately measured to meet the identified needs of the parents/caregivers and their children.
We foster and invest in hope to build a better future for everyone. We believe everyone has the potential to learn, grow and change. Through advocacy and striving for equality, we can create change in the world.
We Strive for Excellence and to Create a Place of Learning.
- Striving for Excellence: Continually on the path of self improvement, we strive to serve better in all areas. We strive to be the beacon in the community advancing our mission of preventing child abuse and neglect.
- Serving with Integrity and the Highest Ethical Standards: We promote and adhere to the highest professional and ethical standards.
- Holding Ourselves Accountable: Families should be able to hold us accountable for the services we deliver, as do we. We must ensure measurable, timely and effective results that are appropriate and family-focused.
- Creating a Place for Learning: We strive to create an environment which celebrates all stages of learning and in which staff, interns, volunteers, families and community members continually grow and learn.
- Working with Humor: We serve others with humor and hold space for joy and laughter together with the families we serve.
We Embrace Differences.
- Accepting Everyone: We meet families where they are, with acceptance, dignity, compassion and without judgment. We serve all families in San Francisco regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, economic status or neighborhood in which they live.
- Creating Inclusiveness: Listening, understanding, accepting and respecting one another is paramount in conducting our work with the families we serve and with our colleagues.
- Providing Culturally Competent Services: We value diversity and difference as sources of strength. We offer services with cultural sensitivity and competency, endeavoring to meet the diverse cultural and linguistic needs of our clients.
- Promoting Diversity: We believe in recruiting and retaining a diverse board, staff and volunteer network to best serve our clientele. We value the different roles, styles, and goals and the experience, expertise and background of each stakeholder.
We Work in Collaboration.
- Building Teams: Through support, trust and collaboration, we work more effectively when we work with each other in our shared mission to protect children and support families. We strive to create effective working teams between all staff, interns, volunteers, board members and community partners.
- Working in Partnership: Everyone in the community has a role to play to prevent child abuse and promote healthy families. Community partnership, based on shared responsibilities, is the most effective way to protect children.
Our Parenting Philosophy
Parenting can be hard. Some parents feel relieved to know that:
- Because parenting is a learned skill, it is a task that involves on-the-job training.
- Being isolated from extended family and community can make parenting even harder.
- Lack of available internal and external resources and financial difficulties can greatly impact parenting.
- Every parent makes mistakes.
- When parents feel that their children are a reflection of themselves, they may have feelings of shame and blame about their children’s difficult behavior.
- Being a parent doesn’t always feel good.
- Parents may have hateful feelings as well as loving feelings toward their children.
- A child may remind a parent of someone; the parent may feel toward the child as he/she feels toward the other person.
- Children are born with an innate temperament that may or may not fit the parent’s temperament and expectations.
- Parenting is affected by our experience of being parented.
Parenting can be easier and more effective when parents gain knowledge & skills. It helps to understand that:
- There are many opportunities for parents & children to learn from each other. Mistakes are opportunities to learn.
- As children go through developmental stages, it is normal for parents to have different reactions and responses to the behaviors at those stages.
- Parents can have control over their actions; they often do not have control over their feelings.
- Children are unique individuals with their own feelings, desires and needs.
- Children’s behavior has meaning and is not intended to antagonize the parent.
- Parenting tasks change over time in relation to the stages of children’s development.
- There are tough times but things can change for the better.
- There is a range of approaches to disciplining children.
It helps to know how to:
- Teach children without using violence.
- Be open so that parents and children can learn from each other.
- Ask for help when it is needed.
- Advocate for your own and your children’s needs.
These are some values we hold about parenting. We would like to support parents in working toward these goals.
- Families’ cultural, racial, religious and linguistic identities need to be respected and supported in order to enhance their ability to function within their families and in a multicultural society.
- Parenting can be judged as more, less, or not effective; it isn’t helpful to label parenting as good or bad.
- Parents are responsible for meeting their own emotional needs through the support of other adults.
- Sometimes parents need to delay meeting their own needs in order to meet their children’s needs.
- Parents are important to a child even if a parent is absent.
- Structure, ritual, routine, and clear, realistic expectations are important because they provide predictability, safety and a sense of belonging for children.
- When possible, children should not be expected to understand adult issues; exposure to adult issues should be limited to what is age-appropriate for the child, depending on the context and the family’s cultural values.
- It is important for parents to separate feelings about the child from feelings about the child’s behavior and to understand that all behavior has meaning.
- It is important for parents to acknowledge and promote the expression of their children’s feelings, with the understanding that the expression of feelings may be different given each family’s cultural values.
- It is helpful for parents to be aware of each individual child’s needs.