Originally published by The Rivard Report

By James McCandless

At a reception in the courtyard of Overland Partners, local philanthropist Harvey Najim announced a $5 million gift to ChildSafe, a nonprofit organization that provides counseling services to abused children in Bexar County. ChildSafe executives and County officials were in attendance to celebrate the gift, which will largely go to the creation of a 70,000 sq. ft. multi-use complex on 36 acres of public land that the City will designate as a park along I-10 and East Houston Street.

The new Harvey E. Najim Children and Family Center, designed by Overland Partners, is scheduled to break ground in May 2017. It will house staff members of ChildSafe, Child Protective Services, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, the San Antonio Police Department, and Bexar County Juvenile Probation. The multi-agency system is intended to offer a safe, child-friendly environment where strategies and care plans can be coordinated to fit the needs of each individual child and its family.

ChildSafe Board Chairman Ray Battaglia said that the expanded facility will combat the high prevalence of child abuse in the city.

“San Antonio ranks the highest in the state of Texas in cases of child abuse and neglect on a per capita basis,” he explained. “And there’s no easy answer. We have a perfect storm of poverty, teen pregnancy, domestic violence, alcohol and substance abuse, financial stress, and intergenerational patterns of abuse.”

Battaglia added that the new facility, coinciding with ChildSafe’s 25th anniversary next year, will do what it can to turn that around.

“Last year, we educated more than 14,000 people on identifying and preventing child abuse,” he said. “Next year, I hope it’s twice or three times that number. Every year we need to educate more and more people and bring this problem out of the dark.”