Our CEO is Nonprofit Executive of the Year!

Renée Layman Named “Executive of the Year” at the First Annual Hats Off Nonprofits Awards presented by Nonprofits First

West Palm Beach, FL (October 3, 2017) Center for Child Counseling’s CEO, Renée Layman has been named Executive of the Year by Nonprofits First at their first annual Nonprofits First “Hats Off” awards event, held at the Harriet Himmel Theater at City Place in Downtown West Palm Beach.  A total of twenty-eight CEOs and Executive Directors were nominated from around Palm Beach County in this category.

The award honored an executive “whose distinguished achievements have resulted in significant progress toward improving a community issue.” They must also be recognized by their peers as a leader in the sector, demonstrating excellence in leadership and management, and inspiring others to achieve meaningful, measurable, and sustainable results. During her acceptance speech, Ms. Layman touched on the increased demand for the services that Center for Child Counseling provides to at-risk children in the Palm Beach County area: “Unfortunately, there’s so much need in our community, so we continue to provide innovative and evidence-based programming to meet the needs . . . we love what we do.”  Center for Child Counseling is filling critical gaps in the services for at-risk children in our community. Under her leadership over the past year, Center for Child Counseling has provided direct services for over 3,000 children – and trained over 3,500 professionals in the educational, medical, and childcare sectors.

Renée Layman has held a variety of leadership roles in her twenty-five year career in mental health in South Florida. She is a part of Leadership Florida’s Cornerstone class of XXXVI, is the co-chair of the Florida Association for Infant Mental Health - Palm Beach and Martin County chapter, graduated from Leadership Palm Beach County Class of 2010 and was the co-chair for the Leadership Palm Beach County Engage program from 2014-2016. Renée is involved with a number of advisory committees in the Palm Beach County area and is on the board of the Nonprofit Chamber of Palm Beach County.

Jessica Cecere, CEO of Nonprofits First and fellow Leadership Grad, was pleased with the committee’s decision to select Renée as the first recipient of this award stating, “I am very pleased and proud to have Renée Layman as Nonprofits First inaugural Hats-Off Nonprofit Award Honoree for Nonprofit Executive of the Year. Renée is an exemplary leader and nonprofit professional.”

CfCC CEO Selected for Leadership Florida

We're thrilled to announce on the heels of Leadership Florida's press release, that Center for Child Counseling's CEO Renée Layman has been selected for Leadership Florida's 2017-2018 Cornerstone XXXVI class!

Renée will participate in an 8-month long experience in counties across Florida. As a new class member, she will "participate in Leadership Florida’s renowned master sessions, which provide a comprehensive look at critical Florida issues, refining well-developed leadership skills via sessions with leadership experts, and relevant information on Florida’s history, demography, diversities, challenges and opportunities."

Leadership Florida states that "The purpose of these programs is to educate, inspire, and engage Florida leaders who will work together, across their diversities, for the betterment of Florida." A natural fit for the class, as "members of Leadership Florida serve on more than 5,000 corporate and non-profit boards throughout the state, providing key leadership in their local communities and in the state."

Renée is a graduate of Leadership Palm Beach County, Class of 2010, serving as co-chair of the Engage Program until 2016. She continues to volunteer with the organization, most recently at the Class of 2018's retreat. Renée states, "I am looking forward to the upcoming year with a group of outstanding leaders and exploring topics that are important to Florida, from diverse viewpoints." 

Center for Child Counseling is excited to see how the experience with Leadership Florida will engage other leaders in mental health and  our fight against Adverse Childhood Experiences in Palm Beach County. 

To find out more about Leadership Florida and view the newest members of the Cornerstone, Connect and Education classes visit: www.leadershipflorida.org.


About Leadership Florida For thirty-six years, Leadership Florida has developed a reputation as a builder of a stronger, diverse statewide sense of community. A respected non-partisan convener of committed individuals, Leadership Florida enhances the knowledge and leadership abilities of Florida’s leaders through educational programs and by encouraging collaborative work for the betterment of our state. Leadership Florida provides Floridians essential information and a meaningful forum for their opinions, and creates opportunities for shared experiences that are inviting, inspiring and of lasting value. Leadership Florida is a federally registered trademark.

Eddie Stephens: Unsung Hero

Making a Difference In Palm Beach County

Eddie Stephens, Board Member at Center for Child Counseling, is the recipient of the 2017 "Alberto Romero Jr. Making a Difference Award." The award is in recognition of Eddie's "dedication to making a difference for Florida's children and families through tireless service to the disadvantaged and under served members of our community."

Eddie also received the The Florida Bar Family Law Section "Unsung Hero Award" - In recognition of Eddie's willingness to provide his candor and expertise selflessly whenever needed. He also received their "Above and Beyond Award" - For exceeding all expectations with his tireless and hard work during service to the Family Law Section.

Thank you Eddie for your commitment to making a difference in our community. You are truly a hero in our eyes! Eddie is a partner at Ward Damon and a graduate of Leadership Palm Beach County.

Pictured: Eddie with Laura Davis Smith, Chair of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar.

CfCC In the News

Center for Child Counseling: A safe haven for vulnerable families

What does Center for Child Counseling do and how does it benefit the community?

The well-being of babies and young children, along with their caregivers, have been the focus of Center for Child Counseling’s mission since being founded in 1999. By improving access to Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health services, they aim to improve the lives of the children and the adult caregivers they serve. They do this through an array of prevention, early intervention and mental health treatment programs for children, families and caregivers impacted by trauma, violence, abuse and general mental health concerns through quality counseling at local childcare centers in high-risk neighborhoods, shelters for victims of domestic abuse, homeless shelters, schools, homes, the Palm Healthcare Pavilion in West Palm Beach, and their Child and Family Center in Palm Beach Gardens.

Click here to read more from this article in the Palm Beach Post.

Eddie Stephens Elected as New Board Member

Press Release: Center for Child Counseling Elects New Board Member

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (June 6, 2017) – The Center for Child Counseling is pleased to announce the election of Eddie Stephens, Equity Partner at Ward Damon, to the Center for Child Counseling’s Board of Directors. Mr. Stephens is a board-certified attorney in Family and Marital Law and a trained Collaborative Law attorney.  He earned his J.D. at Stetson University College of Law.

Mr. Stephens has developed a successful family law practice focused on highly disputed divorces.  He is a popular and engaging motivational speaker, most recently presenting to over one hundred community leaders at Center for Child Counseling’s Lead the Fight event. His personal motto is “Do Something that Matters,” and in that spirit, he brings a passion for inspiring others along with his own personal childhood experiences overcoming adversity to his work at the organization. 

Mr. Stephens believes in giving back and is involved with several charitable endeavors. He has been a leader in the Boy Scouts of America for over ten years, and most recently graduated from Leadership Palm Beach County’s Engage program, where he served on the Board of Governors. 

“Leaders like Eddie bring a wealth of expertise to Center for Child Counseling. His vision for helping children facing adversity in Palm Beach County is inspiring,” states Renée Layman, Chief Executive Officer. “He is passionate about wanting to make a difference for children in our community, using his personal journey to highlight the impact of early adversity. We are grateful that he has joined us.”

About the Center for Child Counseling

The Center for Child Counseling is a nonprofit organization founded in 1999 to serve young, vulnerable children in Palm Beach County. The organization is building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families.

Over the past eighteen years, the Center for Child Counseling has been recognized for its excellence in programming, including being the recipient of the Blue Foundation's Sapphire Award for innovation in community health and the National Easter Seals Award of Excellence. The organization is a Town of Palm Beach United Way partner and Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County Healthy Beginnings agency. For questions about the Center for Child Counseling, please contact Sarah Lidinsky Turner, Director of Community Relations at 561-244-9499 ext. 7. 

Leaders Tackle Economic Impact of Childhood Abuse and Adversity Over Breakfast

Tammy Fields, PBC Youth Services Division; Carrie Brown; Healthier Jupiter; Dr. Seth Bernstein, United Way of Palm Beach County; and Renee Constantino, Community Foundation.

West Palm Beach, FL (April 26, 2017) – The Center for Child Counseling, in partnership with a team from the 2017 class of Leadership Palm Beach County, hosted over 100 business and community leaders from around Palm Beach County on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. The event was the first of its kind in Palm Beach County to discuss the economic impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on the private sector. Attendees included Thomas Bean, FPL; Mayor Maria Marino, Palm Beach Gardens; Shanon Materio, West Palm Beach Commissioner; Erica Whitfield, Palm Beach County School Board; plus, representatives from Gunster, St. Mary’s, United Way, and more.

The Economic Impact of Childhood Adversity and Trauma in Palm Beach County was presented by Renée Layman, CEO of Center for Child Counseling; Dr. Lisa Williams-Taylor, CEO of Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County; Eddie Stephens, Equity Partner at Ward Damon; and Randy Scheid, VP of Programs at Quantum Foundation. The event opened with Williams-Taylor, bringing insights to the cost of trauma on businesses, stating “The bottom line – ACEs affect business profitability and national productivity.” She cited staggering findings such as “the CDC estimated that depression, a long-term impact of ACEs, causes 200 million lost workdays each year.” Scheid commented on the shift in funding at the Quantum Foundation stating, “What we now know about how ACEs affect the long-term health of the community has caused us to focus on more preventative programming like that which Center for Child Counseling provides.” The event closed with Stephens, sharing his compelling personal story of overcoming personal tragedy and being an ACE survivor,  and then called on the business community to get involved in supporting prevention and early intervention mental health services – things he said he did not receive when he most needed them as a child.

Eddie Stephens, Attorney at Ward Damon at Center for Child Counseling Board member, Speaks at ‘Lead the Fight.’

Renée Layman, CEO of the Center for Child Counseling noted, “The opioid epidemic we are facing in our county is impacting an entire generation of children. We cannot sit back and wait for them to start showing signs of distress. The science shows we must reach out to them early so they can avoid repeating the cycle of addition and adversity.” Attendees were encouraged to take trauma-informed practices back to their workplaces, invest in early intervention programs, and challenged to take the next step as a leader in the community.

Hosted at Manatee Lagoon, an FPL Eco- Discovery Center, the event was part of the Fighting ACEs initiative funded by Quantum Foundation. Sponsors included Children’s Services Council, Birth to 22, Ward Damon, Future Shapers Florida, Forming Brands, Florida Community Bank, Sharmin & Sharmin Attorneys at Law, Larry M. Shrier, MA, Palm Beach Gardens, and Gordon & Doner.

About the Center for Child Counseling

The Center for Child Counseling is a nonprofit organization founded in 1999 to serve young, vulnerable children and provides the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County. Over the past 18 years, the Center for Child Counseling has been recognized for its excellence in programming, including the Blue Foundation’s Sapphire Award for innovation in community health and the National Easter Seals Award of Excellence. Click here to learn more about ACEs and what is being done in Palm Beach County to address this issue.

Fighting ACEs in Palm Beach County

Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up.

Children who live in environments where there is ongoing exposure to violence, abuse, and neglect - in the absence of buffering relationships - are at-risk for an array of problems throughout the lifespan. Prevention efforts are critical - and all the key players in community need to be involved.

Center for Child Counseling hosted a screening of Resilience, with a panel of local leaders discussing the the impact of ACEs and toxic stress on children in Palm Beach County.

Due to the interest in continuing this important conversation, we created this blog to share information and get your feedback, questions, ideas, and resources.

PBC Leaders Fighting ACEs

Dr. Lisa Williams-Taylor, CSC CEO, ACEs in PBC

The Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County's CEO, Dr. Williams-Taylor, on how CSC and partner agencies are tackling this issue.

Superintendent Avossa on #FightingACEs in Schools

Palm Beach County School District Superintendent, Robert Avossa Ed joined the Center for Child Counseling to talk about the school district and the importance of trauma-informed practices with children and families. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, administrator, mental health counselor, or friend, it is important to remember to ask, "What happened to you?" instead of "What's wrong with you?" in your interactions with children - and even each other. We are such a diverse county with many unique and wonderful quirks and many unfortunate challenges.

Tammy Fields, Director of Youth Services, PBC on ACEs

"No child wake up one day and says 'I'm going to be bad today so I'm going to act out' they are usually communicating something that's going on in their life through their behavior."

Randy Scheid, Quantum Foundation, ACEs and Health

Quantum Foundation has been a leader in funding #FightingACEs in Palm Beach County. Randy Scheid, Vice President of Programs, talks about this critical health issue.

Fighting Adverse Childhood Experiences in Palm Beach County

Are you trauma informed? Do you know your ACE score? Have you noticed leaders in Palm Beach County using terms such as "toxic stress" and "buffers?" Join the Center for Child Counseling in fighting the impact of adverse childhood experiences.

How Resilience is Built

What is Resilience?

The science of resilience can help us understand why some children do well despite serious adversity. Resilience is a combination of protective factors that enable people to adapt in the face of serious hardship, and is essential to ensuring that children who experience adversity can still become healthy, productive citizens. Watch this video to learn about the fundamentals of resilience, which is built through interactions between children and their environments.

The Science of Resilience

One way to understand the development of resilience is to picture a balance scale or seesaw. Protective experiences and adaptive skills on one side counterbalance significant adversity on the other. Watch this video to visualize the science of resilience, and see how genes and experience interact to produce positive outcomes for children.

How Resilience is Built

Children are not born with resilience, which is produced through the interaction of biological systems and protective factors in the social environment. The active ingredients in building resilience are supportive relationships with parents, coaches, teachers, caregivers, and other adults in the community. Watch this video to learn how responsive exchanges with adults help children build the skills they need to manage stress and cope with adversity.

What are ACEs?


What’s Your ACE Score?

Take a few minutes to complete the ACE survey.
Your answers will be completely anonymous. Please know that this survey is for your own purposes. If you have questions or would like a free phone consultation, please call 561-244-9499.
What are ACEs?
ACEs - Adverse Childhood Experiences - harm children’s developing brains so profoundly that the effects show up decades later; they cause much of chronic disease, most mental illness, and are at the root of most violence. Source: ACEs Too High
Information about ACEs - Adverse Childhood Experiences - is based on the results from a large study in the mid 1990s which discovered a direct correlation between adverse experiences as a child and a decline in mental and physical well-being in adulthood. The study narrowed down ten ACEs and developed a survey to get a person’s ACE "score."
The ACE Study has published about 70 research papers since 1998 and hundreds of additional research papers based on the ACE Study have been published.
What is A Trauma-Informed Approach?
A trauma-informed approach asks: “What happened to you?” instead of “What’s wrong with you?” It is designed to avoid re-traumatizing already traumatized people, with a focus on “safety first” (including emotional safety), and a commitment to do no harm.

Learn More

Leaders #FightingACEs in Palm Beach County

Superintendent, Judges, PBSO, Doctors, and Community Leaders Gather to Tackle Childhood Toxic Stress in Palm Beach County.

“If I had to boil it down for one thing for people to learn from this science, its to totally put to bed forever this sense that children who are born under disadvantaged circumstances are doomed to poor life outcomes. The science is saying that’s just not true.” – Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Pediatrician, Director, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

West Palm Beach, FL, On September 29, 2017 from 5:30 to 7:30 the Center for Child Counseling is presenting a free community screening of the Documentary Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope, directed by James Redford, which chronicles the birth of a new movement among pediatricians, therapists, educators, and communities who are using cutting-edge brain science to disrupt cycles of violence, addiction and disease. The screening and discussion will take place at the Dreyfoos School of the Arts Meyer Hall located at 501 S Sapodilla Ave, West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Dr. Robert Avossa

Dr. Robert Avossa

After the movie, there will be a panel discussion moderated by the Honorable Ron Alvarez, now retired, and featuring Palm Beach County leaders: Dr. Robert Avossa, Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent; Tammy Fields, Director of Palm Beach County Youth Services; Dr. Fox-Levine, Palm Beach Pediatric Society; Chief Deputy Michael Gauger, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office; The Honorable Kathleen J Kroll, Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge: Juvenile Division; and Lisa Williams-Taylor, PhD, CEO of Children’s Services Council

A small networking reception will take place after the doors open at 5pm, including a tasty offering from The Lord’s Place’s Joshua Catering Company. Sponsors for the event include the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, Palm Beach County Youth Services Department, and the Florida Association for Infant Mental Health Palm Beach Chapter.

Join in the conversation. Register today!


About Center for Child Counseling

The Center for Child Counseling is building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County through mental health services and education aimed at prevention, early intervention, and healing treatment. For over seventeen years, the Center for Child Counseling has been serving children and families experiencing trauma and toxic stress. Learn more about the #FightingACEs Initiative, funded by the Quantum Foundation.

Specializing in babies and young children, the organization has developed expertise, grounded in neuroscience, for tackling mental health issues early – even before diagnosis – putting children and families on the track to healing and success. To learn more, please visit www.centerforchildcounseling.org.

About the Movie Resilience

Resilience is a one-hour documentary that delves into the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the birth of a new movement to treat and prevent TOXIC STRESS. Now understood to be one of the leading causes of everything from heart disease and cancer to substance abuse and depression, extremely stressful experiences in childhood can alter brain development and have lifelong effects on health and behavior. However, as experts and practitioners profiled in Resilience are proving, what’s predictable is preventable. These physicians, educators, social workers and communities are daring to talk about the effects of divorce, abuse and neglect. And they’re using cutting edge science to help the next generation break the cycles of adversity and disease.

Center for Child Counseling Reaches GuideStar Platinum

Allows Donors to Focus on Progress and Result

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL – Center for Child Counseling has earned the Platinum GuideStar Nonprofit Profile Seal of Transparency, the highest level of recognition offered by GuideStar, the world’s largest source of nonprofit information. By sharing metrics that highlight changes Center for Child Counseling is making toward its mission, the organization is helping donors move beyond simplistic ways of nonprofit evaluation like overhead ratios.

GuideStar_Platinum_seal-LG"In accordance with our belief in excellence and transparency in all aspects of our work,” said Renée Layman, CEO “we are excited to convey Center for Child Counseling's results in a user-friendly and highly visual manner. By updating our GuideStar Nonprofit Profile to the Platinum level, we can now easily share a wealth of up-to-date metrics with our supporters as well as GuideStar's immense online audience, which includes donors, grantmakers, our peers, and the media."

To reach the Platinum level, Center for Child Counseling added extensive information to its Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar: basic contact and organizational information; in-depth financial information; qualitative information about goals, strategies, and capabilities; and quantitative information about results and progress toward its mission. By taking the time to provide this information, Center for Child Counseling has demonstrated its commitment to transparency and to giving donors and funders meaningful data to evaluate the organization.

"I encourage you to visit our profile on GuideStar to see what we're all about," added Renée Layman. “We’re thrilled that our GuideStar Platinum Nonprofit Profile and its associated benefits help us better communicate our organization’s exciting initiatives at a global scale."

#FightingACEs Initiative Incorporates Mental Health Counseling with Community Education to Combat the Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences

$200,00 Grant from Quantum Foundation to expand services in Palm Beach County for families and caregivers struggling with “toxic stress” from Adverse Childhood Experiences

Center for Child Counseling has received a two-year grant from Quantum Foundation, the largest health funder in Palm Beach County, to support a "Fighting ACEs" initiative, a trauma-informed model based on neuroscience that is working to heal the impact of toxic stress for babies and young children, while building the capacity of adults in the community to address this issue.

The Center for Child Counseling team will use the Quantum Foundation grant to fund prevention and early intervention efforts including direct services to children and families as well as educational training for teachers, child care workers, police officers, area nonprofits, foster care homes, and other professionals who work with children on how to recognize signs of Adverse Childhood Experiences and combat toxic stress in children. The goal being to create a system wide network of adult “buffers” who are trauma informed and “ACEs Aware.”

what happened to you“As a health foundation, we’re committed to funding those projects that improve the ‘whole person health’ of people in our county,” said Eric Kelly, President of Quantum Foundation. “But funding a project that gets out in front of an issue by intervening early in children’s lives when treatment can be most effective is obviously very exciting for us.”

Based on the results from a study that was conducted by the CDC and Keiser Permanente in the mid 1990s, and has since been replicated across the US with similar results, a direct correlation was discovered between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and a decline in mental AND physical well-being in adulthood. The study narrowed down 10 ACEs and developed a survey to get a person’s ACE "score." The score is determined by how many of the following experiences took place in a person's childhood: 1) Physical, 2) Sexual, and 3) Emotional Abuse, 4) Physical and 5) Emotional Neglect, having a parent or caregiver with 6) Depression/Mental Illness, 7) Substance Abuse, 8) is in Prison, being a 9) Witness to Domestic Abuse or Violence, and 10) Loss from the death or separation/divorce of a parent/caregiver. The higher the score the higher the probability of adversity in adulthood. Toxic stress that occurs as a result of ACEs can actually lead to changes in the architecture of a child’s developing brain – making it harder for these children to learn, follow directions, control themselves, and think critically.

When left unaddressed, toxic stress from ACEs have been linked to a wide array of poor social, emotional, and health outcomes. For example, people with an ACE score of 4 are twice as likely to be smokers and seven times more likely to be alcoholic. Having an ACE score of 4 increases the risk suicide by 1200 percent. People with high ACE scores are more likely to be violent, be a victim of violence, have more broken bones, more depression, and more autoimmune diseases. People with an ACE score of 6 or higher on average die 20 years earlier than someone without any ACEs. The costs in hospitalization, mental health care, welfare services, law enforcement, special education, juvenile and criminal justice system, and lost productivity is more than $103 billion -- annually.

“Fighting ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) is at the core of our mission,” states Renée E. Layman, Chief Executive Officer at Center for Child Counseling, which score of fouraims to fill critical gaps in the system of mental health care for young children and their families. “Mental, emotional, social, and physical well-being are directly linked to what happens in early childhood, and with this generous grant, we’ll provide multi-layered interventions and support for families and caregivers who are dealing with the effects of ACEs.”

Because of the scale of the problem (the study revealed that two thirds of the population have at least 1 ACE), Center for Child Counseling plans on working alongside partners in the community, including pediatricians, school professionals, mental health providers, and other nonprofits and businesses, to achieve this goal. By working with very young children (prenatal to age 6) and the adults in their lives – parents, day care workers, police officers, teachers – they aim to change a lifetime of poor health outcomes.

“We cannot exist in silos so this needs to be a community-wide effort.” Layman added: “Every young child deserves to grow up safe, loved, and healthy. We cannot wait for them to fall apart as adults when science shows that we can prevent a lifetime of adversity by working with them in childhood.”

Get Your ACE Score

Click here to get your ACE score. Your answers are completely anonymous and will help us gather data about ACEs in Palm Beach County. At the end, there is also a Resilience Survey, which assesses those factors that have buffered stress in your life.

About Center for Child Counseling
The Center for Child Counseling is a nonprofit organization founded in 1999 to serve young, vulnerable children in Palm Beach County. The organization strives to strengthen and empower children and families through prevention, early intervention, and treatment services that support their social-emotional wellness and growth.

Over the past 16 years, the Center for Child Counseling has been recognized for its excellence in programming, including being the recipient of the Blue Foundation's Sapphire Award for innovation in community health and the National Easter Seals Award of Excellence. The organization is a Town of Palm Beach United Way partner agency, a member of the Children's Behavioral Health Collaborative, and was selected to implement the Child First Program, funded by the Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County. For more information, please email or call 561-244-9499. To join the #FightingACEs movement visit https://www.centerforchildcounseling.org

About Quantum Foundation
Quantum Foundation is a private grantmaking organization that funds approved charities and certain government agencies in Palm Beach County, Florida. Quantum Foundation’s mission is to inspire and fund bold initiatives that improve the health of Palm Beach County. The foundation’s funding supports those organizations which provide health care, help people who need health care, and educate others about health care. According to the latest data compiled by the Florida Philanthropic Network (FPN), Quantum Foundation is the largest Palm Beach County-based health funder with 100% of grant dollars used to support local communities. Since its founding over seventeen years ago, Quantum Foundation has given away over $120 million in grants to more than 450 organizations.