Pierce Family Children's Advocacy Center Slated to Open Spring 2016

October 21, 2015 by SoWal Staff

The Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center’s Walton County construction site is making great progress in Defuniak Springs, Florida. The Pierce Family Children’s Advocacy Center, named after Jim and Tammy Pierce in honor of their generous $1 million donation, is slated to open in Spring 2016. To date, $2.1 million has been raised and/or pledged towards the $3 million capital campaign.  

Art Miller, Lisa Jeffries, Julie Hurst, Jack Huggins and Tammy & Jim Pierce toured the new Pierce Family Children’s Advocacy Center under construction to serve Walton County kids in DeFuniak Springs . The new Center is slated to open in spring 2016.

The project is being managed by board member Terry Jones of Compass Builders, architect Allen McGinnis, and JP Engineering. Compass Builders superintendent Jack Huggins was an encyclopedia of information during a recent group tour consisting of the Pierces, Julie Hurst, board member Art Miller, and Lisa Jeffries, Assistant Director of the Walton County operation.
“Now that we’re just about roofed in, the 15,000 square foot facility is about to go into the insulation and sheetrock phase, then onto installing windows and interior fit-out,” said Huggins. “Nothing but the best of materials is being used including ¾” plywood on the roof and pressure treated plywood on all exterior walls. The lower terrace level includes safe rooms in the event of inclement weather that are reinforced with steel re-bar and a concrete decking above the rooms.”
The child-friendly facility, to serve abused children and their families in a neutral environment, will staff 45 offices in four wings to include a Welcome Wing, Intervention Wing, Justice Wing and Healing Wing. Companies and individuals can contribute to the Center by sponsoring various rooms. Each sponsor will be recognized with a plaque affixed in a prominent position outside the sponsored room.
The Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, located in Niceville since 2001, opened a Walton County satellite Center in DeFuniak Springs in 2012 to provide victim advocacy and mental health therapy to child victims of abuse and their families. The momentum continued and plans were formulated to secure property and construct a stand-alone, full service Center to provide services to Walton County child victims of egregious physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. In 2014, a 99-year land lease for $1 a year was executed with the Walton County Board of County Commissioners.
The organization’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. The Center’s facility in Niceville houses a multidisciplinary team of child protection personnel, prosecutors, law enforcement, DCF, therapists, staff and volunteers. The Walton County facility will have a similar set-up. New in the Walton County Center will be a high-tech Internet Crimes Against Children Division set-up with twenty computers to do comprehensive monitoring to protect children. Services are provided at no cost by the non-profit.
“This is like watching a dream come true to see the Pierce Family Children’s Advocacy Center move closer to completion,” said Julie Hurst, Okaloosa and Walton County Center’s CEO. “We encourage companies and individuals to choose to give, thereby offering an incredible opportunity to bring hope to the most vulnerable child victims. Not only for today, but for the future by ensuring the Center will always be there for tomorrow’s child.”
For further information or to make a donation, visit or call 850-833-9237. If abuse is suspected, call the anonymous Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.
The Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) provides services to help identify, treat and support children in abusive situations. The organization helps prevent child abuse through education, protects child victims from future abuse, and provides resources to restore the lives of the child and the child’s family. The Center is a non-profit organization located in Niceville, Fla. It serves Okaloosa and Walton counties and houses representatives from the Florida Department of Children and Families, Child Protection Team, State Attorney’s Office, local law enforcement, and licensed mental health counselors. For more information or to support the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center please visit If you suspect abuse, call the Florida Abuse Hotline 1-800-96-ABUSE.  


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