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Child Advocacy Center
1033 E. Walnut
Springfield, MO 65806
South Central Child Advocacy Center
411 Garfield St.
West Plains, MO 65775
No. Any time an allegation of abuse occurs, law enforcement and Children's Division must be involved. The CAC does not actually investigate the alleged abuse. We simply provide the services to most accurately collect the evidence for an investigation. Therefore, we cannot interview or examine children without the coordinated approach of the multidisciplinary team.
Emergency cases are scheduled within 72 hours of the alleged abuse. All other cases are scheduled on a timely basis according to our caseload. Generally, this is within 14-16 days after we are called.
Parents are encouraged to prepare their child for a visit to the Center by explaining that this is a place where children come to talk to someone about what may have happened to them. Children should be instructed to tell the truth and should be told that it is "ok" to talk to our interviewer. In addition, we strongly encourage parents to tell children that they will have a head-to-toe check up (if a SAFE or CARE is scheduled) and that a medical provider will look at all of their parts. Parents are given age appropriate explanations to share with their children regarding the exam.
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Call the Missouri Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-392-3738.
Your investigator and the CAC staff can help you evaluate your child's follow-up care. We will discuss these issues after your child's appointment and give you referral information.
If your child is receiving a check-up (CARE or SAFE) you need to bring his or her private insurance card or Medicaid card. If you do not have either of these, we will bill Social Services for the check-up. You will not be charged for this service. IN ADDITION, all adults accompanying a child must bring a valid driver's license or photo ID.
The CAC receives referrals from three agencies - the Department of Social Services Children's Division; the Juvenile Office; and law enforcement agencies. Once one of these agencies contact you, they will contact us to schedule an appointment.
Unless a child has been interviewed MULTIPLE TIMES, it will be of benefit to your child to participate in a Forensic Interview at the CAC.
The length of a Forensic Interview is determined by the needs of the child. The average interview lasts about 30 minutes depending upon the child's age and development. Adolescent interviews generally last longer than 30 minutes.
Your child will be interviewed by one of the CAC's Forensic Interviewers. All three are trained in the accredited, "ChildFirst" interview model.
Only the child and the interviewer are allowed in the interview room. This ensures the interview will be objective and non-threatening. Only members of the multidisciplinary team are allowed in the observation room. Team members meet with the parent(s) or caregiver(s) after the interview to explain the process and discuss what will happen next.
Families are NEVER billed for exams or interviews. We will seek reimbursement for an exam through Medicaid, private insurance, Division of Family Services (DFS), law enforcement, or through the Department of Health.
Any child who alleges or shows signs of physical abuse; a pre-verbal child exposed to a high-risk setting; a child with signs/symptoms that might indicate physical abuse; a child who exhibits behaviors consistent with physical abuse/neglect; a child who has a sibling with a history of physical abuse/neglect should all receive a CARE.
In addition, a CARE will be offered if a child refuses a SAFE.
A Sexual Assault Forensic Exam, or SAFE, is a head to toe checkup performed by a physician or nurse practitioner who is SAFE-trained. The exam includes checking eyes, ears, height, weight and the genital area. This exam is NOT a pap smear. Nothing is inserted into your child's private area and the exam is not painful. You may be present for this exam if you child requests your presence. You will receive the results of your child's exam the day of the appointment.
Any child who alleges he or she has been penetrated; a young or nonverbal child who is unable to give a thorough disclosure; siblings of a child who has a positive exam or who gives a verbal disclosure of penetration; any child who has symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease (discharge, burning with urination, abdominal pain, sores or a rash in the genital area or throat, itching of the genitals, or a sore throat following oral-genital contact) should receive a SAFE
In most cases, the CAC's on-site medical provider will perform the exam. The CAC also retains about six medical providers on a contract basis to perform exams. These individuals have received specialized training through Missouri's Sexual Assault Forensic Exam/Child Abuse Resource and Education (SAFE-CARE) Network to recognize the signs of abuse and make the exam process as easy as possible for a child. The SAFE-CARE Network requires that examiners commit the required amount of time to become "safe trained".
Before the exam, our medical provider will discuss the child's medical and social history with the parent or guardian accompanying the child. This often takes place while the child is participating in a Forensic Interview. The actual exam only lasts about 20 minutes.