Children’s Center of Southwest Missouri, a not-for-profit child advocacy center headquartered in Joplin, Missouri has been providing victim assistance services since May 5, 1997 to sexually abused and/or physically abused children, ages birth through 17, and their families. As a child advocacy center (CAC), Children’s Center provides many benefits, both to victims and families as well as the community as a whole. For victims and their families the benefits of a CAC are readily apparent: consistent and prompt follow-up to abuse reports; crisis intervention; consistent and compassionate support for the child and family; referrals to professionals with expertise in specialized fields; dramatically fewer victim interviews; and increased successful prosecutions.
Children’s Center was founded in 1996 by a group of citizens concerned that children should not be interviewed over and over again about an abusive incident. At that time many children were interviewed in busy police departments or in their own homes where the abuse occurred. Medical exams were provided in emergency rooms where children waited for hours to get an exam. Prosecution rates were low and the number of unresolved cases was high. With the intent of solving these problems, this community group became the first board of directors of Children’s Center. Our Joplin center opened May 5, 1997 with the purpose of helping sexually abused and severely physically abused children and their families.
- Because of unrelenting community interest and support in Barry and Lawrence Counties, Children’s Center opened a second child advocacy center in Monett, Missouri in December, 2001. This center is housed in a donated building that was built specifically for our child advocacy center.
- In 2003, a hardworking community group in Nevada, Missouri and surrounding counties asked that a center be opened in Nevada to provide child advocacy services locally for child abuse victims in Barton, Bates, Cedar, Dade, St. Clair and Vernon Counties. This center began providing services in January, 2004 in space donated by Crowder College. In 2007, the Center moved to a building just off the Nevada Square.
- In October, 2009, Children’s Center opened a fourth child advocacy center in Butler, Missouri. Once again a dedicated group of community individuals and a strong multidisciplinary team, all wanting a better way to provide services for alleged child abuse victims and their families, made this center possible.
These centers were opened so that families and investigators in these rural areas would not have to drive to Joplin for services
Children’s Center of SW MO has provided advocacy services to over 11,000 children since opening in 1997 in twelve southwest Missouri Counties. Services are available to all children regardless of religion, race, disability, national origin or ancestry and at no charge to the families.