Hibiscus Children’s Center Provides Trauma-Informed Care to Children


Thirty-five years ago, Hibiscus Founder LaVaughn Tilton was deeply affected by the lack of safe placements for abused children removed from their homes. Over three decades later, more than 3,000 abused, abandoned and neglected children have received safe haven at the Tilton Family Children’s Center in Jensen Beach and Hibiscus Village in Vero Beach. Our children arrive at Hibiscus scared and traumatized. Every day, they are welcomed by caring staff and volunteers and have received over 400,000 nights of safety since 1985. Children are provided critical services including mental health, educational, medical, trauma-informed care, career training and hope for a brighter future.

When *Ava (name changed for privacy) was 8 years old, she came to the Tilton Center after being removed from her parents due to abuse and neglect. The Hibiscus team of caregivers immediately assured Ava that she was safe. Over time, Ava began to feel more secure and learned to trust the staff and volunteers. The Hibiscus Mental Health Counselor provided therapy to help Ava heal, feel more confident and learn to cope with the trauma she endured. After leaving Hibiscus, Ava was placed in foster homes for several years.  She returned years later to the Hibiscus Village and felt hopeless and alone. The years of moving from foster home to foster home and the difficult circumstances that surrounded her family had taken its toll on her. The Village staff never gave up on Ava and worked diligently to help her realize how valuable she was and that she had the potential for a better future. Slowly, Ava began to come around and envision the life she wanted to have. She concentrated on school and was involved in sports. Her determination and resilience to get her life back on track was evident in her willingness to work hard in school and with her therapist who provided Ava with tools to handle her anger and hurt appropriately.  She participated in the Career Pathways Program which assists teens in preparing for the future through career training and preparation. When Ava turned 18 and was ready to leave the Village, she was equipped with the life skills, career knowledge and resources she needed to succeed and was enrolled in college. Ava shared, “I don’t know what I would have done without Hibiscus. I would not have made it here and on the road to a productive life”. 

One of the key elements to address the trauma experienced by abuse victims is through trauma-informed care.  Hibiscus is certified and utilizes the Sanctuary Model, an innovative, evidence-based model that addresses the health and well-being of abused children and their caregivers, including staff and volunteers. A child entering foster care will likely live in more than four homes during the first year of care and it is common for children who grow up in foster care to move more than 15 times. Each move can mean falling further behind in school and having to make new friends.  This is in addition to the trauma they have already experienced at the hands of their parents/caregivers and is one of the many reasons a trauma-informed culture is so vital to our children’s well-being.  An exciting recent expansion to Hibiscus’ current mental health services is Equine and Music Therapy, a partnership with Harmony Hope Stables that provides an innovative approach and helps build self-esteem and life skills in our children. 

 We would love the opportunity to share more with you about how you can get involved and help children!  Please visit us at or contact Michelle King, CDO, at 561-452-5791 or

Hibiscus Children’s Center Provides Trauma-Informed Care to Children