The North Central Missouri Children's Advocacy Center (NCMCAC) is a child friendly environment in which children are interviewed by trained specialists to gather information in a developmentally appropriate manner about abuse they may have experienced. Advocacy, support and case tracking are provided throughout the investigation and until case disposition. Trauma-informed counseling is made available to all children interviewed. Linkages to other services within the community are also provided.
The North Central Missouri Children's Advocacy Center was established in January of 2003, in response to a need for a child-friendly environment in which to interview children who have been the victims of abuse. One of the primary goals of the center is to prevent the re-victimization of children by reducing the number of interviews the child has to go through during an investigation. Each re-telling of events the child must go through has the potential of further traumatization of the child.
The NCMCAC utilizes a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) response to child abuse cases, and thereby providing a more coordinated approach to investigations of child abuse. The MDT is comprised of the following six disciplines: law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, medical, mental health, victim advocacy and Child Advocacy Center staff. An MDT approach facilitates efficient information gathering and sharing, improved communication, a more-timely investigation and less anxiety for the family.
Forensic interviews are conducted by specially trained Forensic Interviewers that have received no less than 40 hours of a nationally or state recognized forensic interview training that includes child development. The interview is fact-finding in nature, legally sound, non-leading and neutral. The interview seeks to gather information from a child about abuse they may have experienced in the child’s own words.
The NCMCAC provides advocacy and support for the child and family to assist in trauma reduction and improve overall outcomes. Having an Advocate available to a family allows the family more access to and participation in the investigation. The Advocate can assist the family in navigating through the systems’ response to child abuse reports. The family is also provided assistance in locating other necessary community resources. Other necessary community resources may include access to medical or mental health professionals.
The NCMCAC comes under accreditation every five (5) years from the National Children’s Alliance (NCA) and operates according to standards set by the NCA. NCMCAC was accredited in 2004, re-accredited in 2010 and 2015.
Assistance in funding for NCMCAC operations is made possible by grants from the Missouri Department of Social Services, the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), and the National Children’s Alliance (NCA).