ECCAC Opens CARES Center in Fort Walton Beach April 19


ECCAC BackgroundThe Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) has announced a new program, CARES—Community Awareness, Advocacy, Resources, Education and Support. It is a community-based initiative to reach a wider demographic of children who are subject to neglect and lack of resources.

Friday, April 19, at 9:30 a.m. will mark the official opening of ECCAC’s CARE Center and the public is invited! Located in Ft. Walton Beach at the Emily Odom Institute, 320 Racetrack Road, the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce will do a ribbon cutting, and a Proclamation reading will be given by Ft. Walton Beach Mayor Dick Rynearson.

CARES is headed up by Program Manager, Debra Riley-Broadnax, along with ECCAC staff. For years now, Riley-Broadnax has worked diligently in the local community advocating for families with educational, social, economic, health and welfare, and affordable housing issues. She is also a member of the National Association of Social Workers, and was one of the founding members of the Emerald Coast Local Black Social Workers Chapter.

This family-centric initiative provides a myriad of preventive-based services to include resources to support children remaining in safe homes, parenting and child development education and a number of other direct support services.

In this newly established position, the highly experienced Riley-Broadnax will be responsible for managing and sustaining the CARES Program which is state funded and is being established because of the need for elevating ECCAC’s community abuse prevention education in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. With 95% of child abuse preventable through education, ECCAC’s successful Prevention and Safety Matters programs, already in the schools, will also be overseen by the CARES Program Manager. Last year, ECCAC’s Child and Teen Safety Matters programs in Okaloosa and Walton County schools educated 14,878 students in the classrooms.

CARES aims to be the bridge to keeping children in safe and supported homes and out of the judicial child welfare system with preventative methods to try and end child abuse. It will provide families with a myriad of preventive-based services, including resources to support children remaining in safe homes, parenting and child development education, job and household budgeting support, and a number of other direct services.

For further information about the CARES Program, call 850-610-7404, or email If abuse is suspected, call the anonymous Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-96-ABUSE.