Our Mission, History, & Values

The mission of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center is to prevent child abuse and reduce its devastating impact.

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Our History

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.


Our Values

We are Committed to Serving Children and Families.

Empowering Children

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.

Supporting Families

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.

Fostering Hope

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.

We Embrace Differences.

We Work in Collaboration.

Our Parenting Philosophy

Parenting can be hard. Some parents feel relieved to know that:

Parenting can be easier and more effective when parents gain knowledge & skills. It helps to understand that:

It helps to know how to:

These are some values we hold about parenting. We would like to support parents in working toward these goals.