The Foundation of Our Mission
Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health has been the foundation of the Center for Child Counseling’s mission in Palm Beach County since being founded in 1999. Our primary focus is the youngest children in our community because research shows that this period of life (prenatal to age 6) provides the foundation for health and learning throughout the lifespan.
Our programs and expertise, spanning from prenatal to age 18, is grounded in research about early brain development and the impact of adversity and trauma on development, family systems, and generations. Violence and abuse in the earliest years of life are forms of “toxic stress” that can fundamentally change the developing brain, impacting wellness in adolescence and throughout the lifespan.
Relational health and connection matter. Secure, stable, and safe relationships between children and caring adults in the family and community contribute significantly to children’s healthy brain development, well-being, and mental health.
A Brief History
In the late 1990s, Jane Robinson founded the organization (as All 'Bout Children) after recognizing the critical need for mental health programming to address trauma in very young children and their caregivers. In childcare centers, children's excessive behavioral problems were overwhelming teachers who needed effective ways to help them, other than expulsion.
Beginning as an all-volunteer organization, the organization provided Play Therapy in local childcare centers, with concurrent workshops for teachers focused on teaching effective strategies for handling disruptive behaviors, primarily resulting from trauma and adversity. The Childcare and Community Social and Emotional Wellness (CCSEW) Program was formally developed in 2004 to meet numerous needs revealed from community feedback and program evaluation data. Since that time, CCSEW has expanded significantly, guided by our formal Theory of Change and evaluation framework.
Recognizing the need for a qualified workforce, with mental health professionals with the clinical skills needed to work with babies and young children, the organization's Play Therapy Academy was established (known now as the Institute for Clinical Training) in 2006, closing a gap in South Florida for professional practice, especially for the 0-6 population. In addition to a year-long internship program and clinical supervision, the Institute now offers extensive live and online training on a variety of topics.
In 2013, Renée Layman joined the organization as President and CEO when Jane retired. Bringing over twenty years of experience in mental health to the organization, Renée expanded the impact of Center for Child Counseling through talented staff, innovative programming, strong leadership and organizational management, and diverse funding streams.
Under her leadership the Child and Family Center was developed, providing a safe space for children and families to receive counseling and support for mental health concerns. The organization now has six clinical programs, developed to fill critical gaps in our system of care, and has become recognized as South Florida's premier organization tackling the impact of ACEs and childhood trauma.
Reporting to an engaged, talented Board of Directors, Renée is a passionate advocate for child and family health, racial equity, and bringing high quality prevention and trauma-informed services and solutions for some of the most pressing issues facing vulnerable children, families, and communities. In response to the pandemic, Renée and her team have reimagined children's mental health, using a public health framework to not only provide treatment but mitigate mental health concerns through prevention and early intervention. This work includes providing education around the state, nation, and world about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
In recognition of her work, Renée received Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Women of Excellence: Health & Wellness Award in 2011, the Hats Off Nonprofit Executive of the Year Award in 2017, the 2021 Women in Leadership Award (WILA) from Executive Women of the Palm Beaches, and Leadership Palm Beach County's President's Award in 2021.
Recognition and Awards
Center for Child Counseling has been recognized for excellence in programming, including being the recipient of the following awards and recognition:
- 2005 National Easter Seals Award of Excellence.
- 2008 Florida Blue Foundation's Sapphire Award.
- 2018 Nonprofits First "Hats Off" Award Nonprofit of the Year.
- 2018 Palm Beach County Medical Society "Heroes in Medicine" Award: Best Community Organization.
- 2018 four programs highlighted in 'A Showcase of Florida's Cutting Edge Trauma Initiatives' published by Florida State University's Center for Prevention and Early Intervention.
- 2019 Published White Paper "A Public Health Approach to Fighting ACEs in Palm Beach County."
- 2021 5th Publication of “A Way of Being with Children: A Trauma-Informed Approach to Building Resilience,” a manual and curriculum offering practical, insightful information, strategies, and activities for educators, parents, and adult caregivers of children.
- Platinum-level Guidestar Exchange recipient (now Candid) and a Top Rated Nonprofit through Great Nonprofits each year since 2012, showing our commitment to transparency and excellence as an organization.
- Top-rated with 4 stars by Charity Navigator.