Advocates for Children is opening a new center to better tackle the escalating issue of child abuse head-on. “Georgia records about 127,000 cases of child abuse a year and land at the bottom of all the states in child well-being. We felt compelled to take powerful action and create a facility that serves our rising numbers while increasing effectiveness,” according to Advocates’ Pres. and CEO Rachel Castillo. “Our separate campuses are coming together in one place as we continue to be the leading service provider for the prevention of child abuse in the northwest part of the state.” “With our region predicted to experience population growth of nearly 21% over the coming few years, Advocates is extending a comprehensive umbrella of services in advocacy, prevention and housing. We offer critical safety from abusers, valuable education to partner organizations and training for volunteers to represent and support children in foster care,” she stated. “We even help prevent foster care for families in danger of losing their children to the state simply because of poverty issues.” She explained that families will gain convenient access to services and have their needs met at one trauma-reducing location. Now serving 11 counties with a population base of 1.8 million people, the daunting task of fighting child abuse has challenged Advocates to be a strong community leader in offering help and hope to thousands of families. “The challenge should not paralyze our community. It must make us band together to be stronger and more determined to remove this crisis.” Because prevention is always the best deterrent, Advocates provides educational opportunities for parents and children to learn how to avoid abuse, manage behavior and build strong relationships. The nonprofit also operates a children’s home, a housing program for foster children who have aged out of the system and youth experiencing homelessness, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) training and coordination, a safe place for teens who are in immediate danger and other important programs. The organization is giving the public a rare opportunity to learn more about the critical work being done to protect children by hosting an open house at the new facility at 827 Joe Frank Harris Parkway on Wednesday, September 13, 2-6 p.m. The community is invited to tour the building, meet the staff and find ways to support this significant effort in our area, Castillo said. Visitors who would like to bring something to help the children and their families are encouraged to donate toiletries at the open house. “The need for soap, shampoo, feminine hygiene products, toothbrushes and toothpaste is extensive when you help more than 15,000 people a year and many of them need toiletries,” she said. Financial gifts are always appreciated, she continued, “because the needs are growing and we work hard to provide a long list of resources.”