Hibiscus Saving Children for Over Three Decades


Hibiscus is celebrating its 35th Anniversary and the fulfillment of Founder LaVaughn Tilton’s vision more than three decades ago.  In 1985, LaVaughn was deeply troubled by the lack of safe placements for abused children removed from their homes.  Her quest to create what would become the Treasure Coast’s only licensed emergency shelter for abused children inspired an entire community to pull together to fight child abuse.  Thirty-five years later, Hibiscus is recognized as a leader in child welfare, a nationally accredited organization providing the highest care level.

Since its opening, Hibiscus has cared for more than 3,000 abused, abandoned, and neglected children at two locations, the Tilton Family Children’s Shelter in Jensen Beach and Hibiscus Village in Vero Beach.  Often children arrive at Hibiscus scared and traumatized.  But every child receives the same welcome from a cadre of caring staff and volunteers.  This translates into Hibiscus, not only providing nearly 400,000 safe nights but mental health counseling, educational and medical services, trauma-informed care, career training, and preparation for the transition into adulthood.  

The Hibiscus story began at the 12-bed Shelter on October 24, 1989, when the first child walked through our doors. Today the Shelter is a 36-bed facility providing care to over 85 children annually, age’s birth to 12 years of age. Older children may be accepted if part of a sibling group to minimize the trauma of separation.  The Jensen Beach shelter has recently undergone an extensive renovation and offers as close to a homelike setting as possible.  Services have been enhanced to contribute to the mental and physical well-being of children and their safety. 

In May 2004, the Hibiscus Village opened its doors to increase available beds for children in need.  The 40-bed group-home provides a haven to 80 youth annually, ages 13-17 years, in a homelike atmosphere.   Children and youth are provided all the necessities, but Hibiscus delivers much more than just nutritious meals and a safe place to sleep.  While at Hibiscus, children attend public school and are encouraged to participate in sports, clubs, and field trips.  Camp Hibiscus is a 10-week summer camp that all HCC children experience.  Education and literacy focus on all children leading to teens earning a high school diploma or GED.  After-school tutoring and mentoring are provided. The Career Pathways Program promotes academic success and prepares over 80 youth annually for independent living, college, and employment.  The Graphic Design Impact Center and Culinary Program offer children the opportunity to learn marketable skills to transition to adulthood. 

Hibiscus Children’s Center could not accomplish our mission without the support of our generous community.  Each and every supporter has made a difference in the lives of our children.  With this support, over 1,800 children and families are served annually through Hibiscus’ residential, prevention, and intervention programs and our professional mental health counseling services.   Together, we have impacted the lives of children and given them a brighter future filled with hope.  Hibiscus is thankful to our community, you are heroes to our children!

We would love the opportunity to share more of our amazing 35 year journey with you. Your support is always needed to help us continue providing critical services to our children.  Please visit us at to learn more or contact Michelle King, Chief Development Officer, at (cell) 561-452-5791.

Hibiscus Saving Children for Over Three Decades