A new 40,000-square-foot facility in McKinney will help address rising child abuse trends in Collin County when it opens.

Dan Powers, chief operating officer for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County, gave updates on the nonprofit and work on its second location to the Collin County Commissioners Court on Aug. 23. Ground is being prepared for the Speese Campus, which will be located at Heritage Drive and Harroun Avenue, and is expected to open late summer of next year.

“We're going to make sure that the children in Collin County have us here for years to come and are able to heal when somebody hurts them,” Powers said of the campus that will allow the nonprofit to better serve northern Collin County.

The one-and-a-half-story facility is the result of a campaign the Children’s Advocacy Center started two years ago that raised $11 million, including “deeply discounted” land from Independent Financial. It will house half of the Children’s Advocacy Center’s staff, according to Powers, alongside staff from the Collin County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Child Protective Services.

Powers shared construction updates along with numbers that indicated a growing need for resources to address child abuse.

In spring 2020, Powers said statewide child abuse reports were down 40%. But Powers attributed that drop to the fact that more children were at home for school and unable to seek help. In March and April of this year, Powers said the nonprofit saw a “major increase” in reports with more kids in person at schools.

The state last year also reported a 147% increase in internet crimes against children, according to Powers.

Moreover, from January to April of this year, Powers said mental health ER visits rose 72% in the state compared to the last two years. Just at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County, Powers said the nonprofit saw a 51% increase in suicide assessments.

“Kids were home on the internet, and one of things that got called COVID[-19] fatigue for parents ... we all just got tired,” Powers said. “Unfortunately, kids got a little bit more vulnerable during this time.”