Pay it Forward

KIDS Place – a place where hope begins

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Alisa Ashe

KIDS Place has been providing services for children and families for 33 years in Macon County, yet many people still don’t know about this organization and the critical services it provides.

KIDS Place is a nonprofit, nationally accredited child advocacy center that began out of the grassroots efforts of a prayer group. Individuals involved in the group met and prayed for the needs of abused children in the community. Out of this group an anonymous donation of $6,000 was made to help address the needs of child victims. 

One of those individuals initially involved was Dr. Jennifer Brown, a local pediatrician. Through her work with children, Dr. Brown knew that children/youth and teens experiencing abuse often didn’t have access to the mental health therapy that they so desperately needed. She pulled together all the professionals whose jobs were to investigate, protect, prosecute, and provide treatment for child victims in Macon County. The team discussed spending the $6,000 donation to pay for therapy for children and then learned about children’s advocacy centers. 

At that time there wasn’t a children’s advocacy center west of Hendersonville. The group traveled to Huntsville, Ala., to visit the first such center in the country. When they returned to Macon County, they quickly founded Kids Inter-Disciplinary Services, Inc., better known as KIDS Place. 

Right from the beginning, KIDS Place began providing specialized medical exams and mental health treatment at the center at no cost to clients. In those early years, KIDS Place was the only center in the state to offer medical services and mental health treatment.

KIDS PLACE staff and volunteers place “Pinwheels for Prevention” all over downtown Franklin to commemorate April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Services provided by KIDS Place include advocacy, court accompaniment, forensic interviews, medical evaluations, evidence-based trauma-focused mental health treatment, and education about recognizing and reporting abuse. KIDS Place also provides coordination of services with community partners that include law enforcement officers, child protective services workers, prosecutors, child advocates, medical professionals, mental health professionals, and more. These professionals work together as a multidisciplinary team for child victims. This team meets monthly to review child abuse cases. 

KIDS Place truly is a place as well as a process.

KIDS Place was first located in a suite of rented offices above what is currently Outdoor 76. About 17 years ago, the agency purchased and moved into the little rock house at 330 West Main Street. Having outgrown that space, KIDS Place has purchased property on the Georgia Road across from Smart Pharmacy. The new location includes what was formerly an orthodontist office and the house next door. The office building will be used to provide medical evaluations and forensic interviews. The new location will greatly increase capacity for serving children; plus, there is room for future growth.

KIDS Place needs the community’s help to pay for renovations and mortgage costs associated with the new location. In conjunction with Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Otto Community Development Organization (OCDO) has put together a gala fundraising event to help KIDS Place move to its new site. Billed as “Starry Night – an Evening of Hope and Giving,” the event features Sweet Charity Band, elegant desserts, mocktails, and silent auction items for a fun, alcohol-free event. 

The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 20, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Otto Community Center. Tickets are $40 each and sponsorships start at $50. To purchase tickets or help sponsor the event, checks may be mailed to KIDS Place at P.O. Box 693, Franklin, N.C. 28744, or purchased via PayPal through the KIDS Place website Please note in the online form that the donation is to purchase tickets or to be a sponsor. For more information, call KIDS Place at (828) 524-3199.

We are so very grateful to each of our generous “Starry Night” sponsors, and our Otto volunteers are working tirelessly to make this important benefit fun and successful. We hope community members will join us on April 20 to support the important work taking place at KIDS Place on behalf of children. 

Alisa W. Ashe is the executive director of KIDS Place.