Tree House
Tree House

What is Tree House

Our History

Before Tree House, Inc., Leon County children in domestic violence situations would be rescued by law enforcement. A Department of Health & Rehabilitative Services (HRS, now Florida Department of Children & Families) intake worker would assess the situation and if a child needed to be removed, they were authorized to take them to an individual foster-care home that was certified to have extra beds (for emergencies). If that was not available, they would have to hold the child (or children) at the police station or Sheriff’s Office. Sometimes all of the beds in Tallahassee were filled, so children were transported by intake workers to Panama City. This sometimes took place in the middle of the night, when domestic violence often occurs. The idea of a shelter home that would be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week came about in the late 1970s. The first Tree House opened Thanksgiving Day 1986. The four-bedroom home was purchased for $95,000 and then renovations we made, including adding a garage and an additional bed and bath in a separate suite for what was then live-in house parents. In the early days, the group hired a married couple who were supplemented with shift workers and awake-night supervision. Tree House was structured with three entities since early conception. The state money helped fund the beginning organization. When Tree House took a child in, the state would pay to care for them. Children’s Home Society (CHS) bid to run Tree House’s management of the children. The arrangement consisted of state of Florida funding, Children’s Home Society doing the work (they were licensed and insured) and the community organization to supplement the state funds and cover the home.