A Place for Children – a licensed drop-in child care center for children whose families have business with the court – lets children be children, instead of spending long sessions listening to adult interactions that could be painful or frightening for them.
A Place for Children opened on Monday, June 29, 1998 and is located on the second floor of the Orange County Courthouse (Room 270). There is no fee for this service and a morning and afternoon snack are served. Children up to the age of fourteen can spend four hour blocks of time at the Center. The staff members and volunteers are trained in child development, health, safety, and nutrition, recognizing and preventing child abuse and neglect, and appropriate activities and best practices in working with children. All staff members are certified in CPR and First Aid. Caregivers are given a pager that is internal to the Courthouse when they enroll their children. This enables staff to reach them immediately when needed. Every caregiver must give an emergency contact for their children. Even when a caregiver is remanded in custody the child is spared the experience of their caregiver’s arrest and detention, and has a safe, caring, comfortable place to play while waiting for their emergency contact to come and take care of them.
A Place for Children’s goal is to provide on-site, safe, high quality child care for families with official court business while ensuring linkage to available social services. A key component of A Place for Children is that it will serve as a link between much needed social services and the high-risk families who could use these services. During their visit to A Place for Children, parents and guardians, can obtain up to date information on important child development and parenting topics or receive referrals that connect their families to the resources they need for future success.
The concept of a children’s center, appropriately named A Place for Children, was derived from the concern shared by Orange County Chairman Linda W. Chapin and Circuit Judge Cynthia Z. Mackinnon for children accompanying a caregiver to the Courthouse. With their leadership a task force of dedicated individuals worked together to see that the concept became a reality.
A Place for Children was created as a result of the collaborative efforts of the Citizens’ Commission for Children, the Children’s Home Society, Healthy Community Initiative, Orange County Bar Association and the Ninth Judicial Circuit. The program is administered and staffed by Children’s Home Society.