CAC sets groundwork for Walton County location

Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 04:14 PM.

Julie Hurst has a very specific, to-the-point plan when it comes to launching a children's advocacy center in Walton County.

"Build in six days, rest on the seventh, move the bus on the eighth and start serving children on the ninth," the executive director had typed on the steering committee's Nov. 6 meeting agenda.

Since the Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center (ECCAC) opened in October 2000, the accredited center has served Okaloosa and Walton County from its Niceville office. The non-profit agency provides services to prevent child abuse, reduces the trauma of sexual and physical abuse, protects and treats child victims and families while holding offenders accountable and restores the lives and futures of abused, neglected and drug-endangered children and their families. Law enforcement, prosecution, therapists, social workers and a child protection team work under one roof to better serve child victims of abuse. And all services are free of charge.

'A part of the community'

At the Niceville location, the building looks like a house more than an office building. It even has a large porch. Inside are plenty of bright colors, stuffed animals and toys, which lend an inviting feel to visiting children. Hurst even keeps a rocking chair and never misses the chance to cuddle a visiting infant.

"We wanted the building to be a part of the community," Hurst said. "When kids come to us they think it's just a big house."

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