Officials broke ground on a 15,000-square-foot expansion to the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center in Georgetown on Feb. 11, despite construction costs for the project increasing by 78.2% since 2019.

The new facility, which will be connected to the existing WCCAC at 1811 SE Inner Loop, Georgetown, by a breezeway, will be home to crisis services, forensic interviews, family advocacy rooms, a multidisciplinary hub and an outdoor play area.

The WCCAC is a nonprofit organization that provides a variety of services for children who have experienced physical or sexual abuse, or witnessed domestic abuse or violent crime, CEO Kerrie Stannell said during a Nov. 16 Commissioners Court meeting. According to the WCCAC website, the organization has reached capacity at the existing location and the demand for its services continues to grow as the county's population increases.

“It's where we take our kids when the worst thing imaginable has happened to them or their family and not only do we learn the story, but most importantly, we begin the healing process,” County Judge Bill Gravell said in a Feb. 10 interview with Community Impact Newspaper.

Construction on the expansion is expected to cost $9.8 million dollars, $4.3 million more than was originally budgeted for the project, according to previous Community Impact Newspaper reporting.

Williamson County Commissioners Court approved the initial $5.5 million from Capital Improvement Plan funds for the expansion in 2019. In the summer of 2021, Commissioners allocated $1.8 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act toward the project to cover unexpected construction costs. And, in November, Commissioners voted to spend an additional $2.4 million in ARPA funds on the project as a result of rising construction costs. A $100,000 contribution from the city of Cedar Park is also going toward funding construction, according to Williamson County Public Affairs Manager Connie Odom.

The total project cost for the WCCAC expansion—which includes not only construction, but also equipment and furnishings, a renovation of the existing 8,000-square-foot-space, staffing, and operational costs—is $15.35 million, according to WCCAC documents.

Stannell said in a Feb. 11 release the total project is 71% funded. WCCAC is hosting a capital and comprehensive campaign to raise the additional funds, and received a $720,000 donation from Toyota of Cedar Park during the groundbreaking ceremony.

“It’s a shame that we have to expand this facility, but I’m excited about the fact that we are putting the resources there and that’s going to be made available to the kids and the families in our county that end up needing that,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Russ Boles said during the Feb. 8 Commissioners Court meeting.