GUNTERSVILLE — The Marshall County Child Advocacy Center has been in its current location on Gunter Avenue since 1998. 

But they've outgrown the space, and they will soon be moving to a new office at 1620 Railroad Avenue in the former Marshall-Jackson 310 Agency building. The agency will be moving across the street to an office on Blount, Child Advocacy Director Leslie Wright said.

 The Child Advocacy Center conducts forensic interviews of children believed to have been abused. They also offer follow-up counseling services. In the past year, they did 306 interviews. Most of the abuse they deal with is sexual abuse rather than physical abuse.

 The center was founded in the fall of 1997 and started in two borrowed offices at Mountain Lakes Behavioral Healthcare. By May of 1998, it was in their present location across from the Guntersville Church of Christ.

 They're doing more interviews and counseling than ever before, Wright said, and that has added to the space crunch. 

“I can tell you how bad the situation is,” she said. “You have to go through one therapist's office to get to another's. If that therapist has a client, the other therapist and client have to go out on the back deck to enter the office a different way.”

 They have taken in the basement area of the current facility and the space crunch still persists.

 Lief Thornton had the other building listed and worked with the CAC on the purchase. They will close on the new building on February 14 and hopefully move in a short time later. A bit of remodeling and soundproofing of rooms has to take place first.

 Wright said the new office is laid out much better for their needs. It has a large conference room along with individual offices.

 The new building has about 3,300 square feet. The current Child Advocacy Center on Gunter will likely go on the market in the spring. It sits on 3 lots.

 Wright said there are opportunities for the public to help with the move. They could use donations for their moving fund. They're also looking for volunteers to physically help with the move. You can learn more about the help that is needed by calling the Child Advocacy Center at (256) 582-8492.

 The Child Advocacy Center has 3 full-time employees and 5 part-time employees. It puts on abuse awareness programs in the schools (volunteers are needed for that too) along with its interviewing and counseling services.

 They operate on a budget of about $282,000 a year, much of that grant money. They are a United Way agency.

 Wright has served as the director since the inception of the program in 1997.

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