The various colored doors of the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center welcome in different sectors of the community.

Having separate entrances is a best practice for children’s advocacy centers—nonprofit organizations that connect children who have experienced abuse or trauma to services—and it was one of many new features added during the 15,000-square-foot expansion completed in mid-October.

“[The expanded WCCAC] is this beacon of hope for the families to come to,” CEO Kerrie Stannell said. “I think this is going to, down the road, help so many children and families.”

Two-minute impact

Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center staff began seeing clients in their expanded and renovated facility in mid-October.

The WCCAC, which serves as a centralized hub for agencies responding to child abuse and neglect cases, has been located at 1811 SE Inner Loop, Georgetown, since 2007.

WCCAC Chief Advancement Officer Tiffany Sturman said the original building was designed for eight to 10 staff members plus clients and families. However, the center staff has grown to about 30 in the last 15 years.

Sturman said statistically speaking, data shows 10% of children within a community will be sexually abused before they turn 18. That number doesn’t include children who experience physical abuse or neglect, witnessed a traumatic event or are raised in a home with domestic violence—all of whom the center serves, Sturman said.

Future demand for the WCCAC’s services will be driven by continued growth in the county and more awareness of them through education campaigns, Sturman said. In fiscal year 2022-23, which ended in September, the WCCAC conducted 917 forensic interviews, up from about 800 conducted in years prior.

The renovation process also allowed the staff the opportunity to aesthetically improve the center, adding tree motifs, soothing colors and natural light throughout the building.

“When you think about the reason that kids and their family members are coming here, ... our model as a children’s advocacy center is designed to be warm and welcoming to make sure people feel physically and psychologically safe when they step through our doors,” Sturman said.

How the WCCAC works

1. A report is made
  • Once a report of abuse or neglect is made, the appropriate authority determines whether to pursue an investigation.
2. The forensic interview
  • An expert from the WCCAC staff asks open-ended questions, encouraging the child to describe their experiences.
  • Investigators watch the interview through a one-way mirror.
3. Connecting to resources
  • WCCAC staff meets with the family to determine any immediate needs.
4. Medical forensic exams
  • The WCCAC provides medical forensic exams, including ones where there’s a possibility to collect evidence.
5. Trauma therapy
  • The center provides therapy for clients to help the child and family heal.
Previous footprintExpanded footprint
Square feet8,00023,000
Forensic interview rooms36
Family advocacy rooms36
Medical examination rooms12
Therapy rooms610

Digging in deeper

The expansion was funded through a $15.5 million comprehensive capital campaign.

From 2019-22, Williamson County Commissioners Court allocated $9.8 million toward the project, paying for the bulk of construction costs.

The facility was built with WCCAC’s partners in mind, Sturman said. It houses a space where law enforcement agency and CPS officials can work as well as an event center to host community groups.

The organization has received funds totaling 86% of their goal, and the remaining funding would support additional amenities, expanded staffing and facility maintenance, according to WCCAC documents.

“I think that people see that we’re able to serve them well here, and they’re going to be really cared for whether that’s a partner agency or family,” Stannell said.

What they're saying

“We have something better than $115 billion worth of buildings in Williamson County in appraised value, and the most important building in Williamson County is the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center,” Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said.

“For us, the advocacy center is a great resource—almost a one-stop shop for us in regards to helping with investigations of crimes against children,” Round Rock Police chief Allen Banks said.

Get involved

As staff settle into the expanded and remodeled space, WCCAC leaders are already planning for the organization’s future.

“As the county continues to grow, there won’t be as long of a time period before we end up needing to figure out what that next growth is,” Sturman said.

In the meantime, to serve more families in the new building, she said the WCCAC leans on volunteers, donors and community advocates.

“We’ve been serving this community for 26 years, and most people don’t know we exist,” she said. “While that’s a good thing because that means most likely they haven’t had to use our service, ... there’s a lot of kids who do need help, and there’s a lot more we should be helping.”
  • Volunteer on-site to greet families who come to the center or provide back office support
  • Serve on the WCCAC board or one of its committees
  • Help with WCCAC’s programs, including its holiday market and back-to-school bash
  • Champion the WCCAC’s mission in the community, educating others about the resources it provides
  • Donate to the capital campaign to fund the WCCAC’s sustainability and operations