Senate overwhelmingly passes legislation that could impact 22 ch - KOAM TV 7

Senate overwhelmingly passes legislation that could impact 22 child advocacy centers across Missouri

 The US Senate has passed child abuse legislation that could have a positive impact on child advocacy centers nationwide, including the Children's Center in Joplin. 

Kathi Olson, Executive Director of the Children's Center, is happy to hear that Missouri Senator Roy Blunt's Victims of Child Abuse Act is moving forward.

Olson has worked at the Children's Center for the past 16 years and has seen the center grow from one location to four, assisting 500 children just this year.

"In May, we saw 113 children and in June, we saw 126," Olson said.

The Children's Center provides free services such as forensic interviews and medical exams to assist in child abuse investigations in a child friendly atmosphere.

It relies on donations and $40,000 of grant money each year.

Olson says with the legislation passed by the US Senate, more funding options could soon be available.

"It's funding that we can use for keeping our centers open and providing needed services," Olson said.  "It just depends on what the center's needs are."

Olson says the legislation would also benefit prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement who work closely with the Children's Center.

"It provides a great place for us to interview children and get their side of the story as to what happened," said Lieutenant Matt Stewart, Joplin Police Department.  "Anytime a place like that can receive some funding to help them to continue their operations and help us with our cases, that's always a great benefit."

The legislation impacts 22 child advocacy centers in the state of Missouri, providing security and allowing the centers to keep up as the number of children they are able to help continues to increase.

"It's funding such as this that helps ensure that our centers will stay in place," Olson said.

The legislation will next go to the US House of Representatives.

It's estimated that child advocacy centers in the state serve a total of 7,000 children each year.
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