Lake Sumter Children’s Advocacy Center has operated in the vanguard of services to child survivors of physical abuse, sexual abuse and severe neglect in the Lake and Sumter County communities for over two decades. The central mission in our services since our inception has been, and shall continue to be, to promote safety, preserve health and facilitate emotional well-being for all children entrusted to our supervision and service. That mission has not changed in these challenging days of the coronavirus. In fact, COVID-19 has only served to deepen our resolve and re-double our commitment to the most precious resource in our society: our children. It is unfortunate that even society’s current preoccupation with the virus shall not deter incidents of child abuse. In fact, the stress associated with rampant unemployment, scant resources and dramatic alterations in lifestyle may only serve to heighten the threat. Accordingly, we pledge that we shall continue to address the needs of at-risk children through our provision of quality child advocacy, forensic interviews, medical examinations and counseling services throughout the course of COVID-19. Our doors are open, and our staff members are ready to offer the comfort, support and advocacy for children struggling with dramatic change and the consequent disruptions in their young lives.

In the same spirit that we are committed to our children and their respective families, so too are we committed to the safety, health and well-being of our fellow community professionals, stakeholders, guests and our own staff and volunteers. Therefore, we wish to assure you that we are taking the pre-emptive steps necessary to minimize everyone’s risk for contracting the virus as recommended by the Center for Disease Control. Those steps include the following:

  • Greeting guests at the entrance door to take temperatures and issue hand sanitizer;
  • Administering a coronavirus questionnaire to ascertain potential risk prior to admittance;
  • Limiting the number of family members entering our facility to observe “social distance”;
  • Requesting symptomatic guests to seek external medical assessment and treatment;
  • Requiring masks to be warn by children and caregivers upon entering the building;
  • Wiping down surfaces following services to each child;
  • Practicing vigorous and frequent handwashing with anti-bacterial soap; and
  • Utilizing hand sanitizers as an additional measure of precaution.

We would ask that you support our efforts and forgive the small inconveniences associated with our precautionary actions. It is precisely because we care so genuinely for each of you that we exercise them. In closing, we sincerely wish you and yours patience in contending with the many changes in your lives and good health as the virus takes its course. We would encourage you to embrace the spirit of a quotation that has lifted many: “Tough times don’t last, tough people do”.

May we continue to support each other and be kind to one another….


Based on a successful national model, our CAC is a collaborative effort of local government and community agencies dedicated to the investigation, treatment and prosecution of child abuse.

The mission of the Lake Sumter Children's Advocacy Center is to provide a child-friendly, community-based facility where a child victim can be safely interviewed, provided with crisis counseling, receive medical exams and long-term specialized therapy, when needed. We work together with agency representatives to provide child abuse victims with all necessary services in a single location.

The CAC also assists in the coordination of investigations and intervention services by bringing together professionals and agencies as a multi-disciplinary team to create a child-focused approach to child sexual and physical abuse cases.

Our philosophy is in accordance with community directives established by the U.S. Department of Justice for victims' rights and services. Our Center is also a Fully Accredited CAC in good standing with the National Children's Alliance.


The CAC works in collaboration with following:

  • Lake County Sheriff's Office
  • Sumter County Sheriff's Office
  • Municipal police departments
  • State Attorney's Office
  • Department of Children & Families
  • Guardian Ad Litem program
  • Other community service agencies


The Lake Sumter Children's Advocacy Center was incorporated in 1997 through a co-operative effort among various law enforcement agencies, other child welfare agencies and concerned community leaders.

With incidents of child abuse rising, the group saw a definitive need for a facility that could offer a safe, child-friendly environment where child victims of sexual and physical abuse could access all necessary services.

Our primary Center is located in Leesburg, Florida, close to the main campus of Leesburg Regional Medical Center for emergency care and follow-up. It is centrally located for law enforcement agencies and the Department of Children and Families, who depend on our thorough and diverse range of quality services. We also operate a satellite office in Wildwood.

In 2010, the Florida Department of Health awarded the CAC the Child Protection Team contract for Lake and Sumter Counties. This enabled the CAC to hire its own medical providers and expand to provide forensic interviews, medical exams and other risk assessments on a 24/7 basis.


Our Board of Directors oversees the fiscal and programmatic aspects of the Center.

  • PRESIDENT: Meredith Kirste; M. Meredith Kirste, P.A.
  • VICE PRESIDENT: John Rohan; Villages Community Development Districts
  • SECRETARY: Vaneese Collins; Community Volunteer
  • TREASURER: Kaci Linton; The Villages Community Development Districts
  • Mary Lou Clark; Community Volunteer
  • Kayla Dees; Lake County Schools
  • Sheriff Bill Farmer; Sumter County Sheriff's Office
  • Peggy Fuller; Community Volunteer
  • Sarah Jane Hewitt; Hewitt Companies
  • Dr. Doug Moffett; OB-GYN Associates of Mid-Florida PA
  • Ryan Parent; Community Volunteer
  • Sue Purdy; Community Volunteer
  • Paula J. Stinson; Community Volunteer
  • Katie Stradinger; Properties of The Villages
  • Jacqueline Summers; Summers Enterprises

Directors Emeritus

  • Pete Wahl; Community Volunteer
  • Chris Heaton; Community Volunteer
  • Jill McDowell; Community Volunteer