ECCAC’s mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect, protect children, and restore the lives and futures of impacted children. The Centers in Walton and Okaloosa Counties house a multidisciplinary team of child protection personnel, prosecutors, law enforcement, Department of Children and Families (DCF), therapists, staff and volunteers. Services are provided at no cost by the 501-C-3 non-profit organization.
In fulfilling our mission the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center embraces these guiding principles:
- To bring together and facilitate the work of professionals from our partner agencies: the State Attorney’s Office, the Child Protection Team, the Florida Department of Children and Families and area law enforcement agencies under one roof in a child-friendly environment
- To provide intervention and therapeutic treatment services at no charge to child victims of abuse and their families
- To offer child abuse prevention education and training in Okaloosa and Walton Counties
- To connect children and families traumatized by abuse with needed community resources
The history of the Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center is one of grassroots support from the communities it serves. The motivation for establishing a Children's Advocacy Center using a multidisciplinary team response to child abuse in Okaloosa and Walton counties, Florida grew out of a high profile case in the early 1990's. The abuse occurred in a childcare facility where the owner of the daycare victimized several little girls. Individuals from agencies involved in that case, led by the Department of Children and Families and the State Attorney's Office were convinced that there had to be a better response to abuse cases. Together, they formed a Child Abuse Task Force in 1992. That group recommended a Children's Advocacy Center be built and the ECCAC was incorporated in July 1997. Individuals and corporations in the community responded by giving both their time and financial support.
A Capital Campaign Kickoff was held in May 1998 and there was a Groundbreaking Ceremony for the facility in centrally located Niceville, Florida in April 1998. Partner agencies signed a Memorandum of Agreement in December 1999 and, in October 2000, the ECCAC opened the doors to a 13,000 square foot child friend facility that was already paid for. In January 2001, the Center became a member of the National Children's Alliance and NCA accreditation followed. In June of 2007, the ECCAC received its reaccreditation from NCA.