Child Safe of Central Missouri, Inc. was created in 1998 thanks to these very dedicated, extraordinary, individuals that contributed to founding the organization: Cheri Heeren, Shari Thompson, Linda Messenger, Kevin Bond, Carol (Naylor) Scott, Marvin Albright, Karen Hunt, Robin Pummill and Marge Harlan. A residence at 102 East 10th Street in Sedalia was purchased, and extensive work began to remodel the structure into Child Safe’s offices designed especially for children… a safe, child-friendly, neutral place where children and teens are interviewed about allegations of sexual or physical abuse, or witnessing a violent crime, while providing support to children and families impacted by child abuse.
Child Safe was opened in 2000 as a child advocacy center for thirteen counties which include Benton, Carroll, Chariton, Cooper, Henry, Hickory, Johnson, Lafayette, Linn, Moniteau, Morgan, Pettis and Saline. Child Safe is fully accredited through the National Children’s Alliance helping children ages 3–18, who are alleged victims of sexual or physical abuse so they can make their statement about the abuse.
Before Child Safe, a child who disclosed abuse often went through an endless amount of questions, again and again, having to re-tell their horrific experience to as many as 15 people. These people could be teachers, school counselors, school principals, law enforcement, social workers, child abuse investigators and others — all trying to learn the facts and circumstances of their abuse. You can imagine how scary that must have been for the child and these questions/interviews were held in places that are not only intimidating for adults but terrifying for children — such as police stations, government buildings or prosecutor’s offices. People with little or no training in how to talk with children were conducting the interviews. The interviews were not recorded, and the child’s voice could be lost in the process of being interviewed in different places and by a variety of professionals. Families received little support as they tried to grapple with what had occurred.
Thankfully with the overwhelming support of the community, we now have Child Safe of Central Missouri Inc, designed to provide space for an interview, and conference room in a family-type setting where the child and family can make themselves at home…now children can tell their story one time to a trained professional, it’s recorded, and the child is comfortable and feels safe. Each month we serve about 40 children, which can be as many as 8 interviews per week. That’s 8 children and families on the road to ending the nightmare and beginning the healing process.
Our mission is to respond to and prevent child abuse, help families heal and restore childhood hope.
We are committed to serving children who are alleged victims of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, exploitation and other traumatic events that involve a crime. We provide advocacy for the child and their non-offending family members and trauma-informed therapy services in response to allegations of child sexual abuse. Our goal is to limit the number of interviews a child is subjected to by bringing together all disciplines involved (Children’s Division, law enforcement, Juvenile Office, etc.) in a child-friendly setting in order to minimize the trauma to the child.
Child Safe offers this at no cost to the family.
Child Safe also provides education programs for children, mandated reporters and the community. Child Safe also makes training available for professionals. 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.