The Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) recently received a $25,000 donation from the St. Joe Community Foundation towards its Child Safety Matters/Teen Safety Matters initiative in schools

DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — The Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) recently received a $25,000 donation from the St. Joe Community Foundation toward its Child Safety Matters/Teen Safety Matters initiative in schools.


The center’s staff teaches children safety rules, choices and strategies for recognizing and responding to safe vs. unsafe situations and all forms of child abuse and exploitation, as well as the dangers of social media and bullying.


The child abuse prevention efforts also include a component to train mandatory reporters (adults) to include all school personnel. The mandatory training will help adults react responsibly to children disclosing abuse.


“The St. Joe Community Foundation is honored to assist with funding Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center’s Child Safety Matters/Teen Safety Matters program for Walton District K-5 schools.” Executive Director April Wilkes said. “We are thankful for the services ECCAC provides to help keep the community’s children safe.“


Since its inception, the St. Joe Community Foundation has provided more than $23 million in grants to improve the quality of life in the communities it serves. The foundation provides charitable grants toward the civic infrastructure of communities in Northwest Florida with a focus, but not a limitation, on Bay and Walton Counties.


The foundation’s primary focus is to strengthen education, improve health care, protect the environment and support local cultural interests. These efforts help build healthy, caring, long-lived communities.


“We thank St. Joe Community Foundation for investing in our prevention program,” ECCAC’s CEO Julie Porterfield said. “Their partnership will help us provide child abuse prevention education to school aged children in Walton County.”


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. It’ child-friendly centers house a multidisciplinary team of child protection personnel, prosecutors, law enforcement, state Department of Children and Families therapists, ECCAC staff and volunteers.


The nonprofit organization has provided services at no cost to over 13,000 children in the past 19 years.


For further information, visit www.eccac.org. If abuse is suspected, call the anonymous Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.