About the Child Protection Center
The Child Protection Center (CPC) is a nationally accredited child advocacy center.
CPC opened in 1996 to serve as a child-friendly, safe place where children and adolescents who are alleged victims of child sexual and serious physical abuse can make their statement about the abuse. This statement is called a forensic interview or extended forensic interview, depending on the age and level of development of the child. Our goal is to do the best we can to find out what happened in a manner that is respectful of the child and as comfortable as possible for children and their families.
CPC serves approximately 750 children annually at no charge. It is the only child advocacy center providing these service for alleged victims of child abuse in Jackson, Cass and a portion of Lafayette Counties in Missouri.
CPC also serves families or caretakers of victims of abuse. These services include crisis intervention, education about the legal process, and referrals for medical, mental health and social services for the child and family.
Before CPC existed, a child who disclosed abuse often faced a seemingly endless battery of questions from law enforcement, social workers, child abuse investigators, and others -- all trying to learn the facts and circumstances of their abuse. These interviews were held in places that are intimidating for adults and terrifying for children -- such as police stations 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.
Children are referred to the Child Protection Center by law enforcement or Children's Division (child protective services) after a report of abuse. When children and their caretakers arrive at the Center they are greeted by a caring, professional receptionist who helps put children at ease and answers preliminary questions from the family. While at the Center, children will speak to a Forensic Interviewer who has experience talking to children and has special training in child development and forensic interview techniques. This interview is digitally recorded and is made available to law enforcement, child abuse investigators, prosecutors and medical/mental health professionals in order to reduce the number of times a child is interviewed about their abuse.
During the child's interview, a Family Support Specialist meets with the child's family to provide crisis intervention, referrals for specialized medical and mental health services, and information about the investigation and legal process. The Family Support Specialist also provides ongoing support and information to families following the child's interview at the Center.