Nestled off the major roadway of Stewart Street, there's a rather indistinct looking building, with a playground out front.
Some might think it's a daycare center, or perhaps a school. Truth is, it's a haven for persecuted children and there's some magical things happening inside.
The Santa Rosa Kids House in Milton has been helping the area's abused children and their families cope with the tragedy surrounding child abuse. The non-profit organization has social workers, law-enforcement investigators and counselors on hand to assist with child all aspects of child abuse, from criminal investigation to medical examinations and counseling sessions.
"We offer a well coordinated, multi-disciplinary response to cases of child abuse," said Facility Coordinator Bonnie Livingston. "Our response is coordinated in a timely manner, in an environment that puts the needs of the child first."
The Kids House operates with the child in mind, aiming to quell the negative effects that abuse can bring, said Livingston. She said abuse can become a vicious cycle, but with the right care, children can become productive citizens in the area, and not a statistic.
"It's so important for them to be able to hear and have a chance to heal," Livingston said. "The importance is not becoming a victim again."
The Kids House promotes a child-friendly atmosphere, featuring a medical examination table that is shaped like a polar bear. There is also a counseling room with a tree that the children have painted with their hands. Livingston said the children leave inspirational messages for the other children to read.
There is a kids closet, stocked with clothing. Sometimes, investigators need to take an article of clothing for evidence, so to lessen the stress, there's a room where the kids can pick out a new set of clothing.
"It's amazing the results that we see," Livingston said. "We might have a child that's terrified. We try to make them feel safe and comfortable."
Abuse effects more than just the children, it effects the entire family, according to Livingston. So the staff takes a comprehensive approach to not only addressing the crime, but counseling and healing the non-offending family members as well. Many times the abuser is a close friend and family member.
Last year, the Kids House helped more than 200 children in the area. They are funded through a variety of state grants, private donations and fundraisers. They aim to help abused children from infancy up to abused children 18-years-old.
"It's obvious our staff is great," Livingston said. "It takes special people to do what we do every day."