Child Advocacy Center prepares for grand opening of new location

Published 11:00 am Saturday, March 30, 2024

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The Covington County Child Advocacy Center is putting the final touches on its new home in downtown Andalusia at the former Andalusia City Schools Board of Education.

Founded by Covington County DHR Director Lesa Rathel and District Attorney Walt Merrell in March 2015, the CAC will host a grand opening on Wednesday, April 3, beginning at 10 a.m.

“We have grown with our services, so we wanted a bigger space to better serve our children. Andalusia Health has been so supportive of us since the beginning by providing us with our first space. This new space will allow us to continue to grow,” CAC Executive Director Mindy Barton said.

The CAC’s previous location adjacent to the hospital was approximately 1,200 square feet. The new location is two and a half times that amount with nearly 3,000 square feet.

“I love the children’s reactions when they see the lobby space, which is bigger and has lots of natural light. I love hearing from the adults that it is so relaxing and inviting. We now have separate spaces for counseling and forensic interviews, so we don’t have to schedule around each other’s time. We each have our own office space,” she said.

Barton added that the CAC’s new location would feel like a home.

“When children first come to the Covington County Child Advocacy Center, they have recently experienced trauma. Having a space that feels like a home isn’t as intimidating as an office. We have people who come for the first time to knock on the door.”

The CAC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is grateful to give back to its own community.

“We hope to have a place that the community supports and is a part of. We hope to increase our services as a result of this move. We are able to provide all of our services mainly through support from our community. If you would like to be a partner with us and donate, you can send it in by mail, call us, or come by,” Barton said.

The CAC will also hold its annual blue ribbon ceremony in conjunction with the grand opening on Wednesday.

“I love our Blue Ribbon ceremonies. It is a time to honor those children who have been victims of child abuse in Covington County. I look forward to seeing all the different disciplines and honoring the hard work each of them does. This year is special because we get to show the community their CAC as we bring awareness to the issue of child abuse,” she said.

The CAC is currently accepting orders for its annual chicken salad spring box lunch sale on Wednesday, April 17, at Southside Baptist Church from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Lunches are $12 per box and include “Chicken Shack” chicken salad, a bag of chips, a fresh fruit bowl, a pickle, a yeast roll, dessert, napkin, fork, knife, mint, and a surprise. Pickup and delivery options are available, and orders must be placed by Wednesday, April 10.

“What we do here at the CAC is so needed. Every child who comes in our door is loved and respected. We want to give them a child-friendly place to tell their story, have needed medical care, support through the court process, and counseling to heal. All of our services are absolutely free. We are grateful that we have the opportunity to be there for families and help them through this time,” Barton said.

The Covington County Child Advocacy Center is located at 122 6th Avenue in Andalusia. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

For more information email, visit, or call 334-222-1881.