Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center opens new Mount Pleasant location
The Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center has served abused children and their families for close to 30 years.
“(Former) Mayor Riley called us a ‘one-stop shop’ for child abuse,” said Director of Development and Marketing Beverly Hutchison. “We were founded on the premise of being a place where a child and a family could go and access everything our community had to offer around the issue of child abuse.”
And on August 14, they began serving a larger area with a new facility just over the bridge from Daniel Island on Long Point Rd. in Mount Pleasant. Dee Norton opened its first location, known then as the Lowcountry Children’s Center, on King Street in downtown Charleston in 1991. The organization provides forensic interviews, therapy, medical examinations, and mental health assessments for children who have been abused or are suspected of being abused.
The new Mount Pleasant center is designed to look similar to their King Street location to help children and families feel more comfortable, if they have to transition between facilities. In addition to therapy and exam rooms, there’s a play area in the lobby for children and space for them to do homework. The entire building is designed in a simple fashion to ensure visitors do not feel disoriented while they navigate from one room to the next.
The work Dee Norton has done has been successful for many families, but the group realized roughly three years ago that they were quickly reaching a limit of how many children they could help with their existing space and resources. “For the purpose of assessing our capacity needs, we based capacity on the number of forensic interviews we can do in a year,” said Hutchison.
The leadership at Dee Norton determined that the facility was scraping the ceiling of the 1,560 forensic interviews a year they could conduct.
“We were actually able to determine that, at our King Street location, we’re serving about 99 percent of the anticipated need for the peninsula and North Charleston,” said Hutchison.
Despite the success the advocacy center saw downtown, they realized that the returns were lower in other parts of the Holy City. Hutchison said that in West Ashley, about 75 percent of the anticipated need was served. On the other side of I-526, results diminished even more.
“Going up into the Daniel Island area, Cainhoy, it dropped down to about 21 percent of the anticipated need,” she commented.
Dee Norton hopes that the new building will fill in the gap in these more remote areas.
“An East Cooper facility will improve accessibility for these populations,” stated a press release.
The new facility will likely be busy in its first few months, as the King Street location was shut down for renovations the week before the Mount Pleasant site opened. For the next eight months, families that Dee Norton is helping will go to the new location and, once renovations are complete, Hutchison said that the advocacy center’s clients will be split among the two facilities. With both sites in operation, Dee Norton expects to be able to expand their services to provide assistance to 3,500 children annually.
A grand opening for the new center in Mount Pleasant, located at 677 Long Point Rd., will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 24. Tours will be offered beginning at 11:30.
For additional information, visit www.deenortoncenter.org.