About Childsafe

History of Child Safe

History of Child Safe


Child Sexual Abuse Task Force-(left to right) Cheri Heeren, Shari Thompson, Linda Messenger, Kevin Bond, Carol (Naylor) Scott, Marvin Albright, Karen Hunt, Robin Pummill, and Marge Harlan
 
The building before renovation...
 
...and the building after renovation.
 
Before there were children’s advocacy centers, a child would have to endure numerous interviews by many different people. These included a teacher, school counselor, school principal, social worker, police officer, and many others. These settings were not conducive to a child being able to tell about the abuse. Investigators who worked with these children realized that a system-wide change needed to be made to improve the system’s response to allegations of child abuse and neglect.

Our local project began during the fall of 1997 when a small group of representatives from the legal, religious, social service, medical and mental health communities in and around Sedalia, Missouri, USA met to look at services being provided to child sexual abuse victims and their families. The group found the existing system to be fragmented, requiring victims to be exposed to multiple interviews by different agencies, with little ongoing support. The reality surfaced that victims could “fall through the cracks” or get the impression of being “re-victimized” by a system designed for adults, not children.

The individuals dedicated themselves to implementing a new approach to the issue, and in June 1998, Child Safe of Central Missouri, Inc. was born. Based on the national Child Advocacy Center (CAC) model, Child Safe developed a response to child sexual abuse that enables the multiple agencies and disciplines involved in the process to coordinate their activities in a manner that meets the needs of the victims and their families. The scope of services was later expanded to serve victims of severe physical abuse and neglect in cases that may lead to criminal prosecution.

A residence at 102 East 10th Street in Sedalia was purchased in the fall of 1998 and extensive work began to remodel the structure into Child Safe’s offices.

Overwhelming support poured in from the community as cash and material donations, coupled with volunteer labor, were pledged to complete the project. In addition to office space, the center is designed to provide space for an interview, medical exam, and conference room in a family-type setting where the child and family can make themselves at home…in stark contrast to the government buildings and medical facilities traditionally utilized in the process.

After state funding was acquired to purchase necessary video/audio and medical equipment, the facility opened in September 2000 and interviews of suspected child abuse victims began in February 2001. Child Safe of Central Missouri, Inc. became fully accredited through the National Children’s Alliance in November 2004. In order to be accredited with NCA, the following 10 standards were met:
  • Child appropriate/child friendly facility
  • Multi-disciplinary team
  • Organizational capacity
  • Cultural competency and diversity
  • Forensic interviews
  • Medical evaluations
  • Therapeutic intervention
  • Victim support/advocacy
  • Case review
  • Case tracking
Child Safe also realizes that an educational component is needed to provide resources for the fight against and prevention of child abuse and neglect. Specialized training is made available for professionals to enhance the skills necessary to effectively recognize abuse and respond to victims. A child abuse awareness campaign is on-going to further the community’s understanding of the problem.

Please contact Child Safe of Central Missouri, Inc. if you would like someone to speak to your group or organization regarding Child Safe’s services, child abuse or mandated reporting.