What happens at the Child Advocacy Center?

The Child Advocacy Center is a safe, child friendly location for children to come speak with trained interviewers or one of our medical providers. We know this can be an anxious time for you and your family. When we are able, one of our child advocates will be calling you before the interview or medical evaluation to answer any of your questions. But you don’t have to wait. If you have questions and need answers, please call and ask to talk to the advocate assigned to your child’s case. We would rather you call than worry.

At the Child Advocacy Center we work with a team of professionals from law enforcement and the Department of Health and Human Services. When you come to the Children's Advocacy Center, you will be able to meet the professionals working on your child’s case and ask them further questions.

While you’re talking to the team, one of our advocates will be showing your child(ren) around the Children's Advocacy Center. They will get to see the room where they will be talking, see our jungle room and check out the cool artwork. If they have questions or worries, they can ask their advocate anything.

Will I be able to watch my child’s interview?

No. Only professionals directly involved in the investigation are allowed to observe the interview. This is done to reduce the possible stress that can be placed on a child and to provide a neutral setting for the child and the investigation.

Most of us working at the Children's Advocacy Center are parents just like you. We understand how being in the same room with our child may influence what the child does or doesn’t say. If our child doesn’t answer quickly enough, we may answer for them. Whenever we have made exceptions to the rule, it just doesn’t work. It’s hard for us as moms and dads to sit quietly or not influence the interview with a concerned look or an emotional reaction.

Parents are also not allowed in the observation room during their child’s interview. We have one interview room and to ensure confidentiality, only professionals are allowed in the observation room.

All of the interviews at the Children's Advocacy Center are recorded to minimize the number of times your child will have to talk about what happened. The recording of the interview is turned over to law enforcement as part of evidence in a potential criminal case. Missouri Revised statutes 510.035, 545.950,565.225, and 566.209. control access to the DVD recording and no custodian of the DVD can release or provide a copy of the DVD without a court order.

What do I tell my child about coming to the Children's Advocacy Center?

You might tell your child:

“We are going to the Children's Advocacy Center. It is a special place where kids go to talk about important stuff. The person you will be talking to talks to lots of kids about what might have happened to them. It’s okay to tell them everything. You are not in any trouble.”

Who will my child talk to?

Your child will be talking to our trained forensic interview specialist. They have attended basic and advanced training on how to talk to children about difficult subjects. It’s important that any details about the alleged abuse be coming from the child. Our interviewers are trained to not ask suggestive questions and to move at a pace that is comfortable for your child. They never force a child to talk to them.

We also offer extended forensic interviews, which allows the child to come back over four visits to talk to our interviewer. The same questioning strategies are used as in a regular interview, but we recognize that some children need more time to feel safe and comfortable with this environment and with us. So we just slow the whole process down for them, but we’re not asking them the same questions over and over. If you think your child might benefit from this extended model, be sure to let us know.

What will I be doing while my child is talking to someone?

You will be meeting with your child advocate. They want to answer any questions you have. If they don’t know the answer, it is their job to find out. They will listen to your worries and concerns and provide resources to help you through a difficult time. Our advocates are not therapists, but they can listen and get you the help you need.

Your other children are welcome to play in our lobby area so you can talk privately to your advocate. Our development coordinator will keep an eye on them. 

What happens after the interview?

You will be able to talk to members of the investigation team. They will tell you in general terms what they learned from the interview. You will have an opportunity to ask questions and voice your concerns.

Remember, your child’s interview is just the first step in the investigative process. There may be other witnesses that need to be interviewed. There may be physical evidence that needs to be photographed or collected. The alleged offender will be interviewed. So, at this point in the process it’s often difficult to predict what will happen. All of the information will be turned over to the county attorney who will decide whether or not to prosecute. Your advocate will keep in regular contact to let you know what is happening on the case. If you have questions at any point during the investigation or prosecution of your child’s case, please feel free to contact your advocate.

Parents and children are often worried about whether they will have to testify in court. It’s really way too early to know. If this happens, our advocate will be with you every step of the way and will even provide a special Court School to help your child feel more comfortable.

Will my child need a medical exam?

Based on the allegation or the interview, the members of the investigative team may decide a medical evaluation is needed. For many children, knowing their bodies are okay is a huge relief and if seeing one of our medical providers will make them less worried or anxious then be sure to let us know. That is always an option.

We refer children to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO for their medical exams. Doctors will want to spend some time with you to collect important medical history, but they will also want to talk to your child one-on-one to answer any of their questions. When it comes time for the actual medical evaluation, we leave it up to the child who they want in the room. Some children want their parent(s) in the room and some don’t.

Medical providers use a tool to help them see the genital area more clearly. This tool is called a colposcope and it is a magnification device with a camera. The medical provider can take a picture of what they are seeing. If they need a second opinion, your child doesn’t have to have another exam. They can consult with a medical peer utilizing the photographs taken during the evaluation.

When the medical evaluation is over, the medical provider will be able to tell you what he or she has learned. It’s important to realize that in at least 95% of all cases of child sexual abuse, there are no medical findings and the medical provider can help explain this to you more fully.

Will my child need counseling?

Some children do and some don’t. Every child is unique in how they cope. Some may not need counseling now, but will need counseling down the road. Maybe you need counseling more than your child to help you cope with everything that has happened. Your advocate will listen and provide referral information. What we do know is that children who are believed and protected from continued abuse are able to do quite well.

It is very important to your child’s recovery that you work with a therapist specifically trained and experienced in trauma and abuse. This is a field with special expertise.

In most instances, it is important to provide your child with an opportunity to talk with a professional. Too often parents just want their child to “forget” about the abuse and “move on.” That’s easier said than done. Counseling can help your child and family through this very difficult time. It’s best to address issues and concerns now, rather than years later. We have a therapists available at the Children's Advocacy Center and counseling is provided free of charge to all children who receive a Forensic Interview. Just let us know.

NEW! Telehealth Appointments

Due to Covid-19, The North Central Missouri Children's Advocacy Center is now offering the option of telehealth appointments to all new and existing patients.

When you schedule a Telehealth appointment, you will receive an email with a link that allows you access to our Telehealth waiting room on the date and time of the appointment. If you have scheduled a Telehealth appointment and have not received the email with the link, please call the office at (660) 359-2874.

Important Tips For Telehealth Patients:               

  • Use Wi-Fi or a wired high speed internet connection whenever possible. Avoid using cellular data for your appointment.

  • Stay in one place during the appointment. Moving around can disrupt the connection.

  • Arrange to be in a quiet, private space, like an office or bedroom during your appointment. You don’t want your private information broadcast for others to hear, and noisy, disruptive locations will prevent you from getting the most from your appointment.

  • DO NOT attend your appointment while driving! Doing so is ineffective, inappropriate, and likely illegal.

  • Please treat your TeleHealth appointment as you would an in-office visit. Set aside the time for the appointment. TeleHealth appointments are not an opportunity to multitask by cooking dinner or running on the treadmill during your appointment.

Mental Health services continue during COVID-19

The past three-plus months have presented a steep learning curve for professional counselors, especially with the pandemic causing disruptions and difficulties with something at the heart of their work: connecting with people. Many counselors in clinical settings responded to these new realities by ceasing in-person interactions and quickly getting up to speed to offer client sessions via telebehavioral health. Many of these professionals navigated a similar scramble to that of their clinical counseling colleagues, having to adopt and use new technologies so they could continue supporting children online. Despite the widely reported rise in mental health concerns connected to or intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, some counselors are facing income loss because of a decrease in clients. That’s due in part to many clients experiencing financial struggles of their own, including loss of insurance.

To minimize the risk of infection, our counselor, has been sanitizing her office and waiting room after every client, washing her hands regularly, and opening the door for each client so they don’t have to touch the doorknob. She has also posted a sign on her office door asking that people who are sick or have a fever not enter. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic we were billing insurance for the counseling session regardless for those who had or hadn't had a forensic interview along with providing a sliding scale for those without insurance. This remains the same as we strive to continue providing mental health services at as little to no out of pocket cost to the families we serve. We understand that some families are not comfortable being out and about as of yet, in light of this we are offering both telebehavioral health as well as in person visits. 

For more information about our mental health services please feel free to call our office during office hours and speak with Amanda White.  #Essential4Kids


Community Presentations

Child abuse awareness, education,  and prevention programs are a vital component to a healthy and safe community for our children. The North Central Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center (NCMCAC) recognizes that to protect children from abuse, prevention services must address individuals, families and the community.

Prevention programs offered by the NCMCAC have the ability to reach nearly 8,500 people in our service area. These programs offer a range of services to parents, children, schools and a variety of individuals and organizations throughout our communities. We all want to have a safe, healthy and happy community.

We CAN protect our children, take steps to help prevent abuse and build a strong and prosperous future for our community. It’s possible and it’s happening. The NCMCAC is working hard to be a voice for children and YOU can, too.

Check out the Programs we can present to your group or community by clicking our Prevention tab under Categories. For more information, or to find out how to have a program brought to your community, please contact us at (660) 359-2874.

Forensic Interviews

Conducting Forensic Interviews is the primary service offered by NCMCAC. The interview is typically the cornerstone of a child abuse investigation. Forensic interviews are conducted in a child-friendly environment 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 and peer review. The interview is culturally sensitive, legally sound, non-leading, unbiased and supported by research, which includes peer review. It seeks to gather information from a child about abuse they may have experienced, allowing for the competence of the child, using the child’s own words. It also aims to reduce trauma for the child, maximize information obtained, maintain the integrity of the investigation, and minimize the contaminating effects of the interview. The Forensic Interviewer may then provide expert testimony within a judicial setting if necessary concerning the interview and the child’s statements.

All referrals for a Forensic Interview must come from a Law Enforcement agency, Children’s Division, or the Juvenile Office.

Advocacy & Support

Children and families in crisis need assistance in navigating through the systems’ response to a report of child abuse. Research has shown that a child believed and supported after having made a disclosure of abuse is more likely to be resilient in processing their trauma, brave enough to endure a judicial process, as well as remain firm in their testimony. The NCMCAC provides advocacy and support for the child and family to assist in trauma reduction and improve overall outcomes. Up-to-date information and ongoing support is critical to a child and family’s comfort and ability to participate in intervention and treatment. Our victim advocacy services also includes court accompaniment, crisis intervention, education on the dynamics of abuse, case coordination, case review facilitation with identified MDT, and therapeutic treatment broker, as well as acts as a referral resource for other services within the community. Services are available from case initiation until case disposition, or the family decides advocacy is not longer needed.

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Trauma Counseling

Without effective therapeutic intervention, many traumatized children will suffer ongoing or long term adverse social, emotional, and developmental outcomes that may impact them throughout their lifetime. Specialized trauma-focused mental health services are made available for every child receiving a forensic interview. The treatment process engages the non-offending caretaker, includes trauma-specific assessment with full trauma history, and the use of standardized assessment tools to gauge progress. While the forensic interview is separate from mental health treatment, our counselor attends and participates in the Multi-disciplinary Team (MDT) response during case reviews, so that a child’s treatment needs can be assessed and the child’s mental health can be monitored and taken into account as the MDT makes decisions about the case.

Sexual Assault Forensic Exams (S.A.F.E.)or Child At Risk Exam (C.A.R.E.)

Often called a SAFE-CARE exam, these exams are conducted by medical providers specifically trained to conduct evaluations of child sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect. These exams are conducted both in urgent and non-urgent circumstances as deemed necessary based upon information obtained during an investigation. NCMCAC refers these exams to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, MO, to be conducted by experts in the field of child abuse. Members of the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) will work together to ensure that children receive the necessary medical services, evaluations and treatment as determined by information obtained through the investigative process on a case by case and child by child basis.

For more information regarding the SCAN clinic use the following link: Safety, Care & Nurturing (SCAN) | Children's Mercy Kansas City

For a map to the SCAN Clinic please use this link: Children's Mercy Adele Hall | Children's Mercy Kansas City



Case Review & Tracking

Every case presented to the North Central Missouri Children’s Advocacy (NCMCAC) is reviewed by the Multi-disciplinary Team (MDT), where collaborative decisions about the case are made.  NCMCAC tracks each case from initiation until disposition to monitor its progress.  Case tracking also assists in program evaluation and generating statistical reports for grant writing and reporting purposes.