Child Advocacy Centers

Vote YES on Constitutional Amendment 2!


Dear Missouri Voters,

This November every citizen in Missouri will have the opportunity to help change Missouri law to benefit abused children. Constitutional Amendment 2 will allow juries to have information about a defendant’s prior sex crimes against children, IF a judge determines the evidence is not unduly prejudicial to the alleged perpetrator.

Missouri is currently the only state in the country that prohibits this type of evidence, commonly called propensity evidence, in all cases and circumstances. Federal courts and 15 other states permit prosecutors to introduce evidence of past criminal acts with few or no exceptions. The remaining states permit that evidence in some circumstances.

Missouri children deserve to have the strongest—not the weakest—protection against child sexual abuse. Please join the North Central Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center in voting yes on Amendment 2 to Protect Missouri Children. 



Verna Kelsey, Executive Director

DeAn Witt, Child Advocate

Stacy Muessig, Interview Coordinator

Amy Montgomery, LPC

Kimberly Grebner, Forensic Interviewer




Tactics in Collaboration Training

The North Central Missoui Children's Advocacy Center will graciously host an MDT "Tactics in Collaboration" training conducted by the  Missouri Office of Prosecution (MOPS) and the Missouri Department of Social Services on January 28, 2013, at the National Guard Armory, 901 Industrial Drive, Trenton, MO.  The training will be on the co-investgation and prosecution of child abuse, will run from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and lunch will be provided.  This training is FREE to all MDT members.
Presenters include Jeanne Gordon, J.D., Legal Training Coordinator,  Missouri Department of Social Services, Children’s Division, Central Office AND Catherine Vannier, Family Violence Resource Prosecutor, Missouri Office of Prosecution Services.  For more information see the attached link or contact the Children's Advocacy Center @ (660) 359-2874.

Download MDT 2013 MOPS Agenda

For Immediate Release—January 3, 2013

Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children Releases Final Report Submitted to Governor, General Assembly and State Board of Education

Today, at a press conference at the Missouri State Capitol, the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children released its final report, detailing twenty-two recommendations in seven subject areas: community-based child abuse prevention, professional training and technical assistance, multi-disciplinary team excellence, mental health services and treatment, awareness, funding and statutory changes.

“The report is a blueprint for action,” said Joy Oesterly, Task Force Presiding Officer and Executive Director of Missouri KidsFirst. “Addressing child sexual abuse and meeting our duty to protect children demands the cooperation and action of individuals, organizations, elected officials and the General Assembly.”

The report emphasizes the substantial financial, health and social costs associated with child sexual abuse. National studies suggest twenty-five percent of girls and sixteen percent of boys experience sexual abuse during their childhood years. In order to better address this silent epidemic, the report recommends widespread public education, including the integration of education into existing programs, such as home-visiting services and other child abuse prevention initiatives.

In addition to education, the report highlights the importance of mental health services for children who have been sexually abused, as well as early intervention and treatment. In the report, in order to strengthen protections for children through child sex abuse prosecutions, the Task Force recommends a number of particular changes to Missouri laws and a proposed constitutional amendment. It also strongly encourages the General Assembly and private foundations to consider investing increased funding to prevent and address child sexual abuse in Missouri.

Authorized by Senate Bill 54 (2011), the Task Force consisted of fourteen individuals representing several areas of expertise. The Task Force conducted public hearings throughout the state and received testimony from thirty-five experts in the field of child sexual abuse. Drawing on testimony and the expertise of Task Force members, members compiled the recommendations for a report to the Governor, the General Assembly, and the State Board of Education on how to reduce child sexual abuse in Missouri.

The following individuals served as members of the Task Force: Joy Oesterly, Missouri KidsFirst; James Anderst, MD, Children’s Mercy Hospital; Police Chief William Carson, Maryland Heights Police Department; Tec Chapman, Missouri School Boards’ Association; Steve Cramer, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services; Senator Kiki Curls, D-Kansas City; Senator Bob Dixon, R-Springfield; Representative Marsha Haefner, R-St. Louis; Representative Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis; Jill Meuth, EdD, Rockwood School District; Cheryl Robb-Welch, Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; Candace Shively, Missouri Department of Social Services, Children’s Division; Christopher Smith, EdD, Springfield School District; Ellen Teller, MEd, The Child Center, Inc.; and Catherine Vannier, Missouri Office of Prosecution Services.

A full copy of the Task Force report is available at: Missourians who are interested in assisting the Task Force in implementing the recommendations of the report should contact Missouri KidsFirst at 573-632-4600.

The Task Force was financially supported by the Children’s Trust Fund.

For more information, please contact Emily van Schenkhof, Deputy Director, Missouri KidsFirst, at or 573-632-4600 (office).

2012 Leadership Conference

Several staff members of the North Central Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center attended the 2012 Leadership Conference June 3-6, in Washington, D.C., hosted by the National Children’s Alliance. Verna Kelsey and Kimberly Grebner traveled to Washington, D.C. to receive training and education on up-to-date topics concerning Child Advocacy Centers and center based services. They were also able to meet with various members of Congress to discuss Child Advocacy Center issues. Ms. Kelsey is the Executive Director of the North Central Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center, located in Trenton, MO., and Ms. Grebner is a Sergeant with the Hamilton Police Department. Both are trained forensic interviewers.

A children’s advocacy center is a child-focused, facility-based program in which representatives from many disciplines, including law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim advocacy, child advocacy, work together to conduct interviews and make team decisions about investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of child abuse cases.

The National Children’s Alliance is a professional membership organization dedicated to helping local communities respond to allegations of child abuse in ways that are effective and efficient – and put the needs of child victims first. They provide training, support, technical assistance and leadership on a national level to local children’s and child advocacy centers and communities responding to reports of child abuse and neglect.

Rally to Support HB 1278

Please join Missouri KidsFirst in Jefferson City for a rally to support House Bill 1278, which reauthorizes the Children in Crisis (CIC) Tax Credit. The Children in Crisis Tax Credit provides a 50 percent tax credit to individuals who donate more than $100 to a Child Advocacy Center (CAC). This tax credit helps CACs raise local funds to support services to abused children. Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs and Crisis Care Centers also utilize the CIC Tax Credit. If HB 1278 does not pass, the CIC Tax Credit will expire on August 28, 2012. 

What: Rally to support HB 1278
Date: Tuesday, May 1
Time: 2:00-4:00 PM
Where: 1st floor rotunda, Missouri Capitol Building

This rally is an effort of a coalition of organizations that support HB 1278 and all participants are encouraged to wear blue to the event.

For more information on the Children in Crisis Tax Credit, please contact Emily van Schenkhof at or 573-826-0031.

North Central Missouri Children's Advocacy Center Receives Grant





Funds awarded as part of $9.8 million total in federal grants from National Children’s Alliance

TRENTON, MO (03-23-2012) -- On February 29, 2012, National Children’s Alliance, under agreement with the United States Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), awarded the North Central Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center $34,517.95 to address the trauma experienced by children that have been abused in the north central area of Missouri.  Overall, the federal grants totaled over $9.8 million and were distributed in the form of 91 awards to Children’s Advocacy Centers, Multi-Disciplinary Teams, and State Chapter Organizations across the country.


The North Central Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center will use these awarded funds to employ a Counselor on a part-time basis to address the specific trauma children experience at the hands of their abuser.  A child referred to the Children’s Advocacy Center receives a forensic interview, where with the assistance of a specially trained interviewer, can tell their story in their own words, providing as much detail as possible.  A child is re-victimized every time they are required to tell their story and having a counselor on-site will allow immediate crisis intervention at the time a forensic interview is conducted.  The Children’s Advocacy Center seeks to conduct one thorough interview, making it available to those charged with the safety of and criminal investigation surrounding the child so re-victimization is lessoned and treated.


The grant is good for one year and allows for continued and specialized trauma focused training for the counselor to remain current in assessment and treatment methods, as well as participate in a peer review process.  Peer review not only assists in critiquing the work performed but assists in improvement in problem areas and provides support to the counselor in his or her profession.


“The Advocacy Center is accredited by and operates under stringent standards set by the National Children’s Alliance,” explained the Advocacy Center Executive Director, Verna Kelsey.  One of the standards requires that specialized trauma-focused mental health services, designed to meet the unique needs of the children and non-offending family members, are routinely made available as part of the multi-disciplinary team response to reports and investigations of child abuse.  These services are to be made accessible at no cost to the family.  We are very fortunate to receive these funds in an area where resources are scarce.  The Child Advocacy Center goal at minimum is to assist the child in healing and resiliency so that they become functioning members of the community.  This grant not only helps us meet the required standard for accreditation, but more importantly allows abused children to receive the services they need to heal.”


“During a time of federal and state budget cuts in the child protective services sector, coupled with a steady flow in child abuse and neglect cases, we are thrilled to be able to provide critical resources to Children’s Advocacy Centers around the country committed to the intervention and prevention of child abuse,” remarked Teresa Huizar, Executive Director of National Children’s Alliance. “The application process for receipt of these funds was extremely competitive, and each grant recipient presented their individual case for support in a compelling fashion. Grant awardees outlined detailed plans for assisting child victims of abuse in a variety of specified areas. We look forward to witnessing the positive impact these dollars will have on the lives of vulnerable children nationwide.”


National Children’s Alliance is a national funding source that supports grant recipients in the following areas: Children’s Advocacy Center Response to the U.S. District of Columbia; Children’s Advocacy Center Response to Commercially Sexually Exploited Children; Program Improvement; Urban initiatives; State Chapter Development; and State Chapter Support of Children’s Advocacy Centers.


For more information about the North Central Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center, visit or look them up on Facebook.


And for more information on National Children’s Alliance and the various benefits it offers its over 750 members across the country, including financial assistance, please visit



The role of the North Central Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center is to participate and assist in the coordination of the multi-disciplinary team approach to investigating child abuse/neglect and seek justice for child victims of abuse.  The multi-disciplinary teams consist of representatives from law enforcement, prosecuting attorneys, juvenile officers, Children’s Division, medical and mental health professionals, staff from the Children’s Advocacy Center, and may include other key stakeholders in the health, education and welfare of children.  The center provides services to the following thirteen counties in rural north Missouri:  Caldwell, Carroll, Chariton, Clinton, DeKalb, Daviess, Grundy, Harrison, Linn, Livingston, Mercer, Putnam and Sullivan.


National Children’s Alliance is the national association and accrediting body for the over 750 children’s advocacy centers serving each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Dedicated to helping local communities respond to allegations of child abuse in ways that are effective and efficient, and put the needs of child victims of abuse first, National Children’s Alliance provides support and advocacy to its accredited membership, as well as numerous developing centers, multidisciplinary teams and child abuse professionals around the country, and the world. As the national authority on multidisciplinary approaches to supporting child victims of abuse, the purpose of National Children’s Alliance is to empower local communities to provide comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate services to victims of child abuse. Founded in 1998, National Children’s Alliance provides accreditation opportunities, financial assistance, training, technical assistance, research and education to communities, child abuse professionals and children’s advocacy centers throughout the United States in support of child abuse intervention, advocacy and prevention.


Trenton Elk's Lodge #801 Makes Donation

2010 Elks Donation 

    Members of Trenton Elk's Lodge #801 made a donation of toys and gifts to the North Central Missouri Children's Advocacy Center to be gifted to childen and families receiving services through the center.  Pictured from left to right are Trenton Elk members Tom Eads, Jeff Eads and Rick Crow.  Also pictured is DeAn Witt, child advocate with the Advocacy Center.




Janie Dunning, Missouri USDA Rural Development State Director, announced funding of a $25,200 grant to the North Central Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center to assist in purchasing an office building to house the agency.  A mock check representing the funding was presented to the Advocacy Center during a celebration held Wednesday, June 23rd at their new location of 906 Main Street in Trenton, Missouri. 


“Adequate space from which to operate is essential for the continued good work of the North Central Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center,” said U.S. Senator Kit Bond. “Congratulations to all who worked to secure these funds and a special thank you to the staff at the Advocacy Center for the very important work they do each and every day.” 

 Dunning said the grant funds originated from Rural Development’s Community Facility Grant program. The Community Facility Grants provide funding for essential improvements to Public Bodies and Non-profit organizations with substantial ties to the local community. The remainder of the cost of the office building was provided by a loan from Farmers Bank of Northern Missouri and private donations from citizens and organizations from within the Children’s Advocacy Center’s service area, which are eleven (11) counties in North Central Missouri.


Verna Kelsey, Executive Director, said, "I would like to thank the staff of the Rural Development office in Chillicothe for their assistance in helping us secure the grant funds for this project.  We had outgrown our previous office space and, to be in compliance with the State and National Children’s Alliance, we needed to re-locate to a larger office space.


Terry Toms, President of the Advocacy Center Organization, stated “The Advocacy Center Staff has worked very hard with the USDA/ Rural Development staff to make this a reality.  With the assistance of Farmers Bank of Northern Missouri, private donations and the grant from Rural Development, we are now able to more adequately serve the children and families of rural North Central Missouri.”


  Dunning stated that “Funding important projects like this indicates that Rural Development is committed to the future of rural communities.”   She added, “Appreciation is extended to our federal elected officials supporting USDA Rural Development.  They have been strong proponents for the necessary funding for essential services for rural Missourians.”


USDA Rural Development’s mission is to deliver programs in a way that will support increasing economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of rural residents.  As a venture capital entity, Rural Development provides equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure.  Further information on rural programs is available by visiting USDA’s web site at or contact Danny Jackson, at the Chillicothe Rural Development office,  1100 Morton Parkway, Chillicothe, Missouri 64601 or by calling 660-646-6222 extension 4.