JACKSON COUNTY-- Officials from the Gulf Coast Children's Advocacy Center were in town to celebrate the opening of a new facility in Marianna. Officials held their groundbreaking ceremony on the old house located on Lafayette Street.
Covering Jackson and Calhoun counties, the center will have offices for law enforcement as well as the state attorney's office.
The center will house a sexual abuse treatment program and kids' court, which helps children prepare for court against their abuser.
Purchasing the house through fundraising, the center is meant to be a one-stop shop.
"They will have all the services that the neglected, abused children need here,” said Gulf Coast Children;s Advocacy Center Board of Directors President Renee Willougby. “They won't have to travel to Bay County or to Washington County. Many times the parents or the caregiver can’t afford to make that trip and it will be right here."
"In this area last year alone, we served 220 children,” said Gulf Coast Children;s Advocacy Center Community Development Director LuAnn Dean. “220 children for Jackson and Calhoun County. A lot of times people don't think that we have this kinda problem in our area, but we do. And we would have been able to serve more if we had this space."
Officials need to raise $250,000 for renovations before the center can open. They hope to have the building up and running by early 2015.