After 22+ years of accommodating the needs of the original Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) in Niceville, Fla., it’s time to expand to provide additional space to better enable services to children experiencing abuse and neglect.
The Center’s existing 13,000-square-foot, child-friendly facility doesn’t house children, but is set up with a multidisciplinary team of child protection personnel, prosecutors, law enforcement, DCF, therapists, as well as ECCAC staff and volunteers to provide services to the children.
Since opening the Center in 2000, there has been a 226% increase in the number of child abuse cases managed by Center and its agency partners. Along with the increase of child abuse cases, there has been a 700% increase in staff. These increases have created organizational challenges to meet the needs of the children and families served, agency partners and staff. Currently, there is no available space to house any additional staff.
Shaun Eubanks, who has served on ECCAC’s Board for 7 years, commented, “This expansion will help us achieve one of our pressing goals which is to add additional working space to meet the growing need of services for child abuse victims in our community. The recent Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioner’s approval to allow us to add on to our facility in Niceville is a great step forward in achieving this goal. As chairman of the Facilities Committee, it gives me great pleasure to see this project moving forward. It’s all about the kids.”
The expansion will help meet current and future needs. Architect Allen McGinnis, is stepping in to help ECCAC once again. Over the years he has donated his architectural services for the original Niceville Center, the newer Center in DeFuniak Springs, and now for the Niceville expansion. He will provide plans to build a separate two-story, 2,400 sq. ft. structure and connect the current facility by a breezeway. McGinnis added, “I’m happy to be a part of the team and proud of what we have created for the benefit of the children ECCAC serves.”
ECCAC’s mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect, protect children in Okaloosa and Walton Counties, and restore the lives and futures of these impacted children. In ECCAC’s 21-year history, over 15,000 children have received more than 170,000 services at no cost.
For further information about the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, visit www.eccac.org
. If abuse is suspected, call the anonymous Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.