Children’s Safety Center in Springdale on track for September finish

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 733 views 

This architectural rendering depicts an aerial view of the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Children's Safety Center of Washington Co. in Springdale.

Construction of the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Children’s Safety Center of Washington Co. (CSC) in Springdale is nearing completion. Executive director Elizabeth Shackelford expects a certificate of occupancy in September.

CSC has 15 full-time employees and will relocate from its downtown address on East Emma Avenue, where it leases space from The Jones Trust. The new building is roughly three times larger than the current one.

“In my ideal world, we will be up and running in the new building by October,” said Shackelford, the nonprofit’s executive director since 2009.

Construction of the 15,200-square-foot facility south of Arvest Ballpark on Gene George Boulevard started in June 2022. Baldwin & Shell Construction in Springdale is the general contractor. Bentonville firm BUF Studio is the architect.

Founded in 1997, CSC is a child-friendly, family-centered organization that serves Washington County. It assists in children’s sexual and physical abuse cases by coordinating the investigation, prosecution process and treatment services to prevent further trauma to children during the process. That involves several professional teams, including law enforcement, child protective services, victim service providers, prosecutors, medical personnel, mental health professionals and community volunteers.

Shackelford explained that one of CSC’s most important relocation details is to transfer more than 14,000 handprints to the new facility. They line the walls throughout the current facility, each representing a child abuse victim who’s visited the center. It’s an important way for CSC to empower victims.

Springdale Public Schools’ EAST programs, Saatchi & Saatchi X and Arts One are all partnering with CSC to ensure the handprints remain visible in the new building.

“We do have many survivors who know exactly where their handprint is [in the current building], and we’re really trying to capture them the best way we can,” Shackelford said.

CSC started the quiet phase of a $12.5 million capital campaign for the project in July 2019, co-chaired by Springdale businessmen Rob Kimbel and Chris Thornton. On Oct. 12, 2021, CSC announced a $3 million lead gift from the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family.

As of July 1, Shackelford said the campaign had raised about 92% of a $15 million stretch goal. Sponsorship opportunities are available for as low as $1,000.