By CHRIS AGEE
Following plans announced last summer, county authorities are making great strides in implementing a regional children’s advocacy center.
Members of the multidisciplinary task force, which includes District Attorney Mike Burns, law enforcement officials, and other community leaders, met last October to vote on key aspects of the center. That meeting marked the beginning of an approximately 14-month implementation process for the Children’s Alliance Center for Palo Pinto County.
The range of experience present on the center’s board is designed to help deal with the entire spectrum of child abuse – from filing a report to the prosecution of offenders.
As April approaches, those involved in the new center plan to usher in Child Abuse Awareness Month by officially introducing the new center to the community.
According to board member Joy Eaton, a building in the 200 block of S.E. 3rd Avenue was donated to serve as the center’s headquarters. She said an open house is set to begin at 4 p.m. March 28, noting the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce will also be on hand to celebrate with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Additionally, she said the CAC officially received it’s 501c3 designation as a non-profit entity, meaning donors can now make tax-deductible contributions to the center’s ongoing progress.
Through a partnership with Bennett’s Office Supply, Eaton said those interested in donating can sponsor the purchase of specific needs rather than simply giving a lump sum.
Similar to registering for gifts prior to a wedding, she said board members have selected office furniture and other supplies vital to the center’s operation.
Though the CAC is still several months away from taking cases, Eaton said the project is progressing about three months ahead of schedule at this point.
The local entity has already collected sufficient donations to qualify for a matching grant from CAC of Texas, she said, and have diligently followed the guidelines set forth by the state body, every step of the way.
According to data from the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Palo Pinto County saw a child abuse case filed about once every three days in 2011. The total number of cases filed that year was 114 in a county with a child population of 7,031.