About Us

Welcome to an organization that listens when no one listens. That cares when no one cares. That protects when there’s no protection. And that provides hope when all hope seems to be lost. Our job is to help children and their families get back on track—because everyone deserves the chance to shine.

The Florida Keys Children’s Shelter is more than just a place to stay. Our extensive programs—both residential and non-residential—have helped and counseled thousands of children and families in their time of need since 1985. We’re dedicated to providing the best possible solutions for abused, abandoned or neglected children; and children that have run away, are truants, or are considered ungovernable by their parents.

Our services are provided at no charge. We receive funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the Florida Department of Children and Families and Monroe County (FL) Human Services. We depend largely on private donations, including the Keys Children’s Foundation, Ocean Reef Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys, the Fred M. Klaus and Harold L. Murphy Charitable Foundation and the Katherine Wells MacMillan Foundation.


Safe Kids, Strong Families
and a Healthy Community

  • Unconditional Love – We believe every child and every youth has value to society.
  • Protection – We believe every child and every youth is entitled to nurturing protection and a chance to develop his or her full potential.
  • Belonging – We believe children and youth thrive, or fail to thrive, in the context of families, kinship systems and communities. Our work must recognize and value these connections.
  • Integrity – We believe we have a moral and ethical obligation to serve the public, our funding agencies and our clients within the highest standards of our profession.
  • Openness – We believe—in order to ensure the public trust—we have an obligation to serve the community in a manner that is both open and democratic in decision-making.
  • Accountability – We believe that we have a responsibility to be accountable to our supporters and donors, to our funding agencies, and to the children, youth and families we serve.
  • Service – We believe we have a responsibility to serve the public good and to provide this service to the children, youth and families with whom we are privileged to work.
  • Compassion – We believe we have a responsibility to care for our clients, our community and our employees with respect and dignity.
  • Partnership – We believe we have a responsibility to accomplish our mission through effective community partnerships.

Leadership & Partnership


Florida Network of Youth & Family Services is a statewide association of not-for-profit organizations that, among other issues, specialize in working with truant, ungovernable and runaway youth. FKCS has been an active member of this organization for almost 20 years. During that time we have served on many quality assurance and Board-related committees, and the CEO of the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter, Inc., served as the President of the Board of Directors from 2004 to 2006.

Florida’s CINS/FINS Programs Named “Best Practice” by OJJDP (read more)


The Youth and Family Services Network (YFSN) An association of child and family-serving agencies around the country.  The CEO maintains a seat on the YFSN Board of Directors and represents the association and its member agencies on the National Council of Youth Policy.

US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Administration on Children and Families (ACF)
Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB)
Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs

Former Kathy Tuell, President and CEO, spent a week in Washington, D.C. in April at the request of the Family and Youth Services Bureau, participating in a federal workgroup to establish basic standards for Basic Center, Street Outreach and Transitional Living programs funded under the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. The reauthorization of the Act, passed in September, for the first time required the establishment of basic standards that all such federally-funded programs must adhere, once approved.

Tuell joined twenty-seven providers from across the country, nine members of the Family and Youth Services Bureau, five members of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance staff from the University of Oklahoma, and three representatives from the National Clearinghouse on Children and Families for the three-day intensive process. Six teams examined basic standards for the three different program areas, drafting language for the standards and making further recommendations to the Family and Youth Services Bureau staff. The federal staff will continue to review the recommendations and will soon request public comment on the refined standards. We can expect this process to continue over the next year.

National Network for Youth (NN4Y) – a national association of child and youth serving not-for-profit agencies and home of the National Council of Youth Policy. The Florida Keys Children’s Shelter’s CEO represents the Southeastern Region (Region IV) on the Council. The Council tracks federal legislation and makes policy recommendations regarding issues pertinent to homeless and runaway youth.

Former FKCS CEO Kathy Tuell delivered a seminar on Disaster and Contingency Planning at the 2007 NN4Y Symposium in Washington, D.C.

Johns Hopkins University Listening Post Project
The Florida Keys Children’s Shelter was asked to join the Listening Post Project in 2005. The Project examines trends and issues affecting effective management of nonprofit organizations of all types through surveys, white papers and policy recommendations.

Texas Network for Youth & Volunteers of America of Greater. New Orleans (VOAGNO)
FKCS CEO Kathy Tuell is serving as a consultant for the Volunteers of America of Greater New Orleans as they develop a best practices manual for how nonprofit agencies can better prepare for disasters, and how to organize and work with volunteers after a disaster.

Leadership and Partnership

Florida Department of Children & Families
Southeastern Network of Youth and Family Services
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
Charity Navigator
Council On Accreditation
Department of Health and Human Services


Executive Council

Brad Copeland, Chairman

Mike Puto, Vice Chairman

Jay Rourke, Treasurer

Michele Staroba, Secretary

– Directors –

Ashley Arrabal
Linda Falk
Andy Griffiths, Jr.
Marie Jacobs
Diana Tweedy

Leadership Team

Ben Kemmer
Chief Executive Officer

Alvin Bentley
Chief Operating Officer

Katya Andrade
Office Manager

Baldwin Davis
Grant Writer

Erin Flannery
Residential Counselor

Paivi Johnson
Learning and Evaluation Officer

Michelle Monday
Financial Manager

Nathaly Milla
Residential Services Coordinator

Katie Raskob
Counseling Program Coordinator

Jai Somers
TLP & Street Outreach Coordinator

Lynda Weinstein
Development Director