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Children's Safety Center of Washington County getting new home

The Children's Safety Center of Washington County is moving from Emma Avenue to its new home on George Boulevard in Springdale.

SPRINGDALE, Ark. — For the last 25 years, the Children’s Safety Center of Washington County has called Emma Avenue, in Springdale, home. On Friday, they broke ground on the land that will be home to the brand new J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Children’s Safety Center of Washington County off Gene George Boulevard.

Community and state leaders were on hand for the ceremony talking about the growing importance and need for the organization to move and expand.

“We know we’re out of space,” said Arkansas First Lady, Susan Hutchinson.

In all of 2021, the Children’s Safety Center of Washington County provided services to more than 630 children. This year alone, that number has jumped to nearly 815 kids.

“The Children’s Safety Center has increased the number 29% in one year’s time,” says Hutchinson. “It’s sad that there’s so many that need us. It’s sadder still if we don’t get to them.”

However, through generous donations and fundraising, nearly $12 million of the needed $15 million has been raised so far – helping the organization move forward with the project.

“We have seen an increase in the number of children that we are helping every year, and so, our next step is more space,” said Elizabeth Shackelford, the executive director for the Children’s Safety Center of Washington County.

More space is exactly what the organization will get.

The new facility will be more than 15,000 square feet, which is three times the size of the current location. It will also include a specialized therapeutic playground, the first in the area. Other features include soundproof interview rooms for law enforcement, medical suites, improved security, and dedicated training and technology spaces.

With the future move, Children’s Safety Center Development Director Emily Rappe’ Fisher wants people to know the mission remains the same. She told 5NEWS that the facility will continue to be a central location housing some of their most critical programs. Volunteers and staff will have more space to continue to advocate for alleged child abuse victims, dedicated rooms for forensic interviews and medical exams, therapy sessions, and more opportunities for education and prevention programs.

Springdale Mayor, Doug Sprouse was also in attendance and is excited for the future facility saying, “We’ll see the results. We’ll see it as soon as this building is full and again, it’s not the building that make the difference, it’s what goes on inside the building.”

Once the construction and move are complete, the Children’s Safety Center will be looking for more volunteers. Anyone interested in helping is encouraged to reach out for ways to get involved.

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