Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center Coming to Walton County

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The Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center has been based in Niceville for 13 years, serving children in both Okaloosa and Walton counties.

Sadly there is enough child abuse to warrant Walton County its own office.

Thursday morning Walton County Commissioners approved that facility in Defuniak Springs.

"This really is a historic day for the children in Walton County,” said Julie Hurst, CEO of the Children’s Advocacy Center. “You know when we weren't in the community we saw 62 children, last year we saw 242, it is a huge impact."

Walton Commissioners feel this will be a great asset to the community.

"I mean some families are not capable of making it that way, but I am glad to see it move this way, and we appreciate it,” said Commissioner Bill Chapman.

"What you do is not an easy job, I don't know how you do it. But we commend you for it,” said Commissioner Sara Comander.

The new facility will be in the similar setting as the Niceville facility, helping the children feel safe.

"With this property on College Boulevard, it is next to a senior citizen center which we have volunteers from,” said Hurst. “Also, there is a church across the street and there are homes around so, again we can become part of that community and those children will feel more comfortable when they come to a place like that."

The county is renting the property to the CAC for 50 years.

The Children’s Advocacy Center helped Okaloosa and Walton law enforcement and families that were involved in 1,100 cases of sexual and physical child abuse last year.

That's an average of three a day.