• Advocacy center for abused children in central Florida closing its doors


    VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - An advocacy center for abused children in central Florida is shutting down with just a week's notice. Now other agencies are scrambling to fill the gap for thousands of victims and their families.
    The Children's Advocacy Center serves abused children and developmentally disabled children in Volusia and Flagler counties.
    The doors of the center will close for good July 1, after the center lost more than $2 million in state contracts stemming from the misuse of state funds at the center four years ago.
    Channel 9's Karla Ray was there less than two weeks ago when she learned the rape crisis center, run by the advocacy center, was closing as well.
    There are already 10,000 children receiving attention for their special needs through Volusia County's Easter Seals child development programs.
    Officials said the number of families the agency serves is about to jump by 1,000.
    "I think it's always disturbing to see a nonprofit close and I think all of us in the community feel bad about that," said Lynn Sinnott with Easter Seals.
    The 10 percent increase in clientele comes as the agency takes over the Early Steps program from the Children's Advocacy Center.
    Child abuse investigations will now be handled by the University Of Florida Child Protection Team in Jacksonville.
    DeLand-based House Next Door will take over sexual abuse cases.
    Neighboring counties will be providing some of the services the rape crisis center was providing.
    When Ray spoke with Children's Advocacy Center CEO Reggie Williams earlier this month he did not say anything about the center closing entirely.
    "It's all about the victims, it's not about us as providers of that service," Williams said in an interview at the time.
    Ray tried to reach Williams a number of times Monday, but did not hear back from him.

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    Advocacy center for abused children in central Florida closing its doors