KIDS Center is turning 20

KIDS Center is turning 20

KIDSCenterStaffOne of BendBroadband’s community partners, KIDS Center, is celebrating 20 years of service in Central Oregon. Thanks to stable community support and solid financial footing, the organization is looking forward to the next 20 years.

KIDS Center is dedicated to the prevention, evaluation and treatment of child abuse. The organization was formed during one of those magical moments when a broad-based group of community leaders, volunteers and non-profit organizations came together to create something that would benefit all of Central Oregon.

The community-supported child abuse intervention center opened its doors in 1994. Located at the Rosie Bareis campus on Bend’s west side, the building was constructed with the help of volunteers and a budget of $50,000.

Before KIDS Center was formed, the quest for assistance could be a grueling experience for a child, says Shelly Smith, executive director of KIDS Center.

“Typically, a child would make a disclosure to a teacher, a school counselor or an adult that they had been victimized,” Smith says. “Throughout the process, the child had to retell their story to many adults. There could be as many as seven different agencies involved, depending on how the child came into the system.”

That included other adults, school officials, law enforcement representatives, medical staff and the district attorney’s office. During each interview, the child was forced to relive the trauma of the situation, with potentially devastating effects.

“With child abuse intervention centers like the KIDS Center, we now work collaboratively with all those agencies,” Smith says.

When a disclosure is made, the child is immediately referred to KIDS Center. Gone is the traumatizing retelling of the story. Trained forensic interviewers talk to the victim in a child-friendly environment. The statement is taped, and the recording is then used throughout the process to bring the perpetrator to justice.

“That allows everybody to hear the story without re-victimizing the child,” Smith says.

The first year, KIDS Center served 130 children. With an annual operating budget of $130,000 and only one full-time staff member, the center faced an uphill battle. A child might have to wait up to six weeks to be interviewed by the volunteer staff.

Things have changed for the better. In 2013, KIDS Center served more than 2,000 children and performed over 300 child abuse evaluations. That’s about one child per day. Nowadays the wait is down to no more than five business days.

Over the years, KIDS Center has expanded its services beyond the core group. KIDS Center is now reaching out to non-offending parents and caregivers of abused children. It is an important step to end the cycle of domestic abuse and violence.

Funding a nonprofit organization is always a tough stretch. KIDS Center is no exception. The services may be free, but the cost is very real to the organization. More than 50 percent of KIDS Center’s funding comes from private donors, community organizations and foundations. Local and state agencies provide the rest.

As a part of KIDS Center’s annual fundraising efforts, the non-profit organization mainly relies on two events: The Healing Hearts Luncheon and Cork & Barrel.

Though the event is already sold out, Cork & Barrel offers a series of winemaker dinners at three venues around town for all who love good wine and food. The Winemaker Dinners kick off on July 11, the day before the main event. The dinners are limited to 40 people per sitting. Tickets are still available. For information, go to

We congratulate the KIDS Center on their success.


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