Impact the Palm Beaches awards $100,000 to Prevent and Heal Child Sexual Abuse

May 2, 2023
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel 

Center for Child Counseling Receives Grant to Prevent and Heal Child Sexual Abuse
Impact the Palm Beaches awards $100,000

(Palm Beach Gardens, FL)–Impact the Palm Beaches recently awarded a $100,000 grant to Center for Child Counseling (CFCC) for keeping kids safe by preventing and healing child sexual abuse. 

Child sexual abuse is a leading health concern facing children today. About one in 10 children will be sexually abused before they turn 18. Of those children who are sexually abused, 90% are abused by someone they know and trust. 

To tackle this crisis, in October of 2022, Center for Child Counseling officially merged with KidSafe Foundation–an organization with more than 13 years of expertise in education of sexual abuse. As a program now under the CFCC umbrella, KidSafe is expanding to provide more education to prevent child sexual abuse. 

With the support of the Impact grant, Center for Child Counseling will provide 14 Palm Beach County schools with Stay KidSafe©–an age-appropriate curriculum that simplifies the sensitive topic of child sexual abuse and trafficking prevention with a fun, interactive program that teaches children protective skills from a place of empowerment, not fear. The program will give children concrete tools and skills to stay safe. Children will  learn to recognize their feelings, go to their “safe adults,” and speak assertively when they feel uncomfortable. The training will extend to parents, guardians, and teachers–making them better vanguards of safety for children. Adults will learn how to: communicate safety awareness and provide skills to children; build their capacity to spot the signs of sexual abuse; and have open conversations about safety. This program implementation will impact over 7,000 children and over 4,000 adults in the county.

“Thanks to this Impact award, we are tackling the public health crisis of child sexual abuse in Palm Beach County with prevention and early intervention, because every child deserves to grow up feeling safe. We believe that every child must have the KidSafe program. Our dream is big but Impact the Palm Beaches is helping us take a major step to make it a reality,” stated Renée Layman, CEO of CFCC.

The KidSafe program is also available to the more than 7,500 children served annually through CFCC’s clinical programs. Furthermore, it will be integrated into CFCC’s Childcare and Community Social-Emotional Wellness Program–funded by Impact the Palm Beaches in 2019–which is provided onsite in 30 partner childcare centers and elementary schools. Through a collaborative agreement with the School District of Palm Beach County, the curriculum will be available to every elementary school in Palm Beach County at no charge. 

For more information on Center for Child Counseling’s KidSafe program, visit  

About Center for Child Counseling:

Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County since 1999. Its services focus on preventing and healing the effects of adverse experiences and toxic stress on children, promoting resiliency and healthy family, school, and community relationships. As of October 2022, KidSafe now operates under Center for Child Counseling as the two entities are now stronger together in their education and prevention of child sexual abuse and childhood trauma. Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc


Photo credit: Capehart Photography
142: Center for Child Counseling leadership team and members of the board of directors.
148: Impact President Lisa LaFrance, CFCC Chair of the Board of Directors Dr. Eugenia Millender, CFCC CEO Renée Layman, CFCC Treasurer and Secretary Jeffrey Petrone, Impact Immediate Past President, Lauren Sterlacci.


How do we talk about touch with our kids?

By Cherie Benjoseph, MSW, LCSW, Child Safety Expert, Director of National Outreach

It is much easier to talk about all sorts of touch with our kids if we have a name for it. Let’s start with Safe Touch.

Mom! Bryan hit me! Dad! Abby pushed Baby Joey down! Is an example of everyday touching. Cuddling on the couch with your child while reading a story or holding hands while going for a walk are also great examples of touching.

We don’t realize how often we touch each other throughout the day.

Some touches make us feel comfortable and safe while others do not. In our society we do not talk much about touching in general. We either say “Don’t touch your Brother” or “Use nice hands.” (From my daughter’s preschool days.) Let’s dive a little deeper as human touch is an important part of wellness and healthy development.

Many people assume because I teach sexual abuse prevention that to keep kids safe we shouldn’t be touching kids. That could not be further from the truth. Children need to be physically nurtured and held from the day they are born. This type of healthy, safe touch provides children with a strong sense of self, belonging, being valued and safe. Children, for example, who are raised in an understaffed orphanage and do not get picked up and held often have a number of long-term issues, particularly failure to thrive and attachment issues. My point is that positive touch is important. Healthy modeling of Safe Touch helps a child understand what an appropriate touch should feel like.

A  SAFE TOUCH feels: comfortable, loving, relaxed, protective, happy, warm, cozy.

Safe touch examples: A group of kids playing tag, a person while conversing with a friend reaching out and touching their arm for a moment, holding hands in the movie theater, kissing your child goodnight, cuddling on the couch, buckling a child into seat, doing someone’s hair.

Explain to your child that the difference between a safe and an unsafe touch is the way it makes you feel.

An UNSAFE TOUCH makes you feel: uncomfortable, confused, scared, embarrassed, weird, hurt, betrayed, angry.

Unsafe touches happen every day. Examples: Siblings shoving each other, a grown-up grabbing an arm of a child in frustration, a child being physically harmed by another student at school (bullying), someone touching a child’s private parts, or forcing a child to touch their private parts.

If you ask a child for examples of an unsafe touch the list will sound like: getting hit, pinched, pushed, shoved, kicked, hair pulled, by either a peer or adult.

If you have more than one child in your home, there is bound to be various ‘unsafe touches’ throughout a day. Much of this interaction, is how children learn to navigate in our society. With parents’ guidance, setting of healthy boundaries, some rough housing is good to let the kids problem solve on their own. What we suggest is to define those limits. Start labeling touch at a young age as Safe Touch or Unsafe Touch by how a touch makes them feel. Ask: “Emma, when you fell down, and Sammi came over and put her arm on your back and checked on you – was that a Safe Touch or an Unsafe Touch for you?” Ask: “How did it make you feel?” Teaching children to recognize their emotions is an important life skill. If they can recognize the positive it will impact how they treat others. If they can recognize the negative it becomes a protective factor – all part of teaching your child personal safety. We often say this is a skill for a life time –this builds resilience.

We teach safe touch and unsafe touch for many reasons – but for our purposes in this blog let’s focus on body boundaries. If a child has learned that they have private parts and that no one should be touching their private parts, and they get a confusing touch and they are not sure if it was a Safe Touch or an Unsafe touch, they can recognize the feeling and know, because they have been taught, that this is the type of touch that they should Report to a person in their Circle of Safe Adults to talk about it. It is so important at this point that the adult be an approachable caregiver. (Parent, relative, teacher, etc). Preparing yourself in advance for how you might respond to a child disclosing is a key factor in preventing and putting a stop to child sexual abuse.


1. Discuss with children how various touches make them feel. Explain to them that if they receive a touch, even from someone they know and love, and it makes them feel confused, they should report it to another adult.

2. Ask your child if the following examples would be a Safe Touch or an Unsafe Touch:

  • Holding hands with a close friend
  • High fiving their coach
  • Being kissed good night by an aunt
  • Getting shoved by a schoolmate
  • Add a few more of your own examples

3. Play a game called “Safe and unsafe touches I had today”.
Ask your child to think of some examples to share with you. Examples:

  • I hugged nana when I got off the bus.
  • My friend pushed me on the playground.

These conversations will provide you with an opening for a more in-depth discussion about what may have happened during your child’s day and how particular touches made them feel.

Children who have learned that their bodies belong to them and that there are boundaries regarding their private parts understand when a line has been crossed.

Emphasize to your child that no one should be touching or looking at their private parts and they should not be touching or looking at anyone else’s private parts because everyone’s body is special and belongs to them.

Click here to learn more about our KidSafe Program, which is focused on preventing child sexual abuse, trafficking, and exploitation.


90% of the time a child is harmed by someone they know and trust. This makes it even more difficult for a child to tell – they often feel betrayed, confused, and are afraid to report. Empower children from a young age about the difference between Safe and Unsafe Touch, and when they should come to you with questions – even if they are scared.

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Center for Child Counseling Merges with KidSafe to Fight Sexual Abuse


October 3, 2022
For immediate release
Media contact: Cara Scarola Hansen
Center for Child Counseling Public Relations Counsel

Center for Child Counseling Merges with KidSafe to Fight Sexual Abuse 

Merger elevates kids’ safety in the fight against adverse childhood experiences, particularly preventing and treating sexual abuse.

Center for Child Counseling (CFCC) in collaboration with KidSafe Foundation announce the merger of the two not-for-profit organizations which both serve children and families with the shared goal of healthy families, schools, and communities. Effective October 1, 2022, KidSafe now operates under CFCC, knowing that the two entities will be stronger together in their education and prevention of child sexual abuse and childhood trauma.

Every nine minutes, a child is a victim of sexual abuse and assault ( Of those children who are sexually abused, 90% are abused by someone they know and trust. Sexual abuse can have long-lasting physical and emotional effects, including: depression, eating disorders, self-blame, self-destructive behaviors, cyclical abuse, learning disabilities, drug abuse.

Since 2009, KidSafe Foundation has empowered over 60,000 children with personal safety education and has taught over 50,000 parents, guardians, teachers, and child-serving professionals how to keep kids safe. In addition to protecting children from sexual abuse, KidSafe teaches children safety tools and skills that help them make safe and smart choices in all areas as they become healthy, powerful adults.
Research has shown that unaddressed mental health problems among children can lead to lower educational achievement, greater involvement with the criminal justice system, and poor health and social outcomes overall.

Since 1999, Center for Child Counseling has supported thousands of children each year, preventing and healing the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma, while promoting resiliency and healthy relationships. CFCC launched its Fighting ACEs initiative in 2016 to promote a public health approach to preventing and healing the effects of early adversity and trauma on children to build healthier, safer, more nurturing families, schools, and communities.

As part of this initiative, CFCC CEO Renée Layman explains, “We are looking at each of the ACEs and how we can provide prevention and education to build caregiver and community capacity, in addition to treatment to help children and families heal after trauma. We don’t want to replicate what anyone is doing. When we started looking at a public health approach and prevention of sexual abuse, KidSafe already had everything perfectly in place.”

Under the leadership and direction of CEO Laura Askowitz and Co-Founder Cherie Benjoseph, KidSafe has gone from grass-roots to sustainable and has built an evidence-informed, research-based, innovative curriculum that educates and empowers children to advocate for their own personal safety–thereby preventing sexual abuse or a continuous cycle of abuse and a lifetime of health issues.

According to Askowitz, “This merger allows KidSafe programming to be even more accessible to the community. Our education absolutely reduces children’s vulnerability to exploitation, but at its core, it’s really about arming children with resiliency and preventing life-long trauma from ACEs. That’s why this was a natural fit: combining resources to serve more children and help them grow up to be healthy, powerful adults.”

The merger of the two organizations promotes continued growth of the KidSafe program under the infrastructure and support of CFCC’s larger staff. KidSafe’s six staff members will join Center for Child Counseling as key members of their 70-person staff, contributing to the continued program development of the agency’s fight against sexual abuse as well as their fight against all the other ACEs. As the new Director of Strategic Development for CFCC, Askowitz will help build sustainability for the agency and expand and grow its impact.

As members of the nonprofit sector, both Layman and Askowitz view this merger as a responsibility to their funding partners’ and the community’s limited resources–ensuring proper sustainability so that the education and care reach more children and families.

About Center for Child Counseling
Since 1999, Center for Child Counseling has been building the foundation for playful, healthful, and hopeful living for children and families in Palm Beach County. Its services focus on preventing and healing the effects of adverse experiences and toxic stress on children, promoting resiliency and healthy family, school, and community relationships.

For more information, visit Twitter: @ChildCounselPBC Facebook: @CenterforChildCounseling Instagram: @childcounselpbc

The following interviews are available related to this merger:

Renée Layman, Chief Executive Officer of Center for Child Counseling
Laura Aksowitz, Former Chief Executive Officer of KidSafe

Click here to view news release.


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