Chamber Spotlight ~ Children’s Center, A Child Advocacy Center
Children’s Center is a not-for-profit organization that provides a safe, child-friendly setting for the investigation of child abuse in Southwest Missouri. Due to an increased need for services, the Center has recently hired a full time staff member, Nancy Abbott, to replace Amy Kaelke and serve as child advocate, forensic interviewer and site coordinator for the Nevada Center. Amy will continue her duties full time at the Butler location. In an interview with Amy during our visit, it was obvious that she has passion and heart for children suffering from abuse in our area.
The allegations that bring children to the center include sexual and/ or physical abuse, living in a drug-endangered environment, neglect, exploitation through the Internet or pornography, and or witnessing a serious crime. As an advocacy center, they provide children three critical services including Forensic Interviews, Forensic Medical Exams and advocacy services for non-offending caregivers by trained professionals. Behind the scenes at the center, a multidisciplinary team of law enforcement, Children’s Division, the juvenile office and medical professionals observe the interview, share information, discuss outcomes and determine a course of action that best serves the interest of the child.
Although the Center is located in Nevada, it serves Barton, Cedar and Dade Counties as well. In 2017 the center assisted over 30 children from Barton County, which is close to 25% of all the children they served last year.
The Children’s Center is preparing for their annual fundraising event. The 5th Annual Mouse Race Night is scheduled for Feb 24th. This annual fundraiser includes dinner, mouse races and a live auction. According to Susan Barret, Board Member of the center, the 2018 event is sold out. They are very grateful to all the sponsors, volunteers and those who have joined financially with them to make the center a reality in our area.
I for one am very glad that the Children’s Center is here to help those who are small have a voice against their abusers. If you know of a child who you suspect needs services, please report child abuse to the statewide hotline at 1(800)392-3738. The Center also accepts donations anytime online at www.childrens-center.org/donate. Your donations are tax deductible. Thank you to all four locations of Children’s Centers of Southwest Missouri including Joplin, Monett, Nevada and Butler for being that source of hope and justice for children in our area.