Volunteer Spotlight on Hanah Bratt!

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April is just about over and that means that Child Abuse Prevention Month is coming to a close, but in reality every month and all 365 days a year are for child abuse prevention. –Hanah Bratt, Volunteer at the Child Protection Center

Hanah Bratt

Hi! My name is Hanah Bratt and I am the newest volunteer here at CPC. I’ve lived in the Kansas City area my whole life and I am very family and friend oriented. I’m the middle child with two brothers and have a very involved group of grandparents and cousins. I went to elementary through high school at Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, graduating in 2011. I knew I wanted to work with kids, but was unsure in what capacity. I thought about pediatric nursing, occupational therapy, art therapy, speech therapy, early childhood education, special education, and everything in between. I eventually thought about social work. I knew that social work would allow me to help mend and influence change in a child’s life. So, I signed up for a social work class at Johnson County Community College, which required service learning hours at a location of our choice. Searching the key words: “children and social work” led me right to the current volunteer position I now hold.

At the CPC, I am able to spend my few hours each week playing and interacting in the waiting room with children. On my very first day, a very nervous quiet girl came in for her interview. I was told she was very shy, but I proceeded to try to get some form of interaction out of her. Soon enough, we were building a tower together and making a zoo out of blocks. She was laughing and smiling and didn’t even want to go home. Being able to have that effect on a young child in an environment like CPC really inspired me to keep going. It showed me the power that the amazing employees at the Child Protection Center hold, as well as the effect they have. The full process of carrying out a case is a long, emotional and difficult road, which makes child advocacy SO important. Kids are people too. They have their own thoughts, feelings, ideas, and desires. They deserve to express and carry those out as much as the next person. They deserve to live a proper childhood with all the normal kid things, and they should be able to get through those experiences safely. Anything that might inhibit this from happening is something that needs to be handled. Despite the amazing insight and expressions that children carry, sometimes they just need a stronger voice and someone to hold their hand through it, and that is how I dream of spending my days.

I do not know what is immediately up next for me, but what I do know is that I am certainly focusing on the right field, and I thank the CPC for helping me realize that.


For information about volunteering at the Child Protection Center, visit www.cpckc.org. Together we can continue to make a difference in children’s lives.

Message from our CEO, Lisa Mizell!

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Serving the children: Child Protection Center spotlights abuse
By Lisa L. Mizell, CEO, Child Protection Center (blogpost also featured at Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City’s Blog)

Every year, the Child Protection Center (CPC) serves hundreds of abused children and their caregivers. Since the CPC’s door opened in 1996, it has served over 12,000 children and its mission has remained the same: respect the child, and protect their voice throughout the investigation of child abuse. Since April is Child Abuse Prevention month, it gives the CPC an opportunity to spotlight an ever-growing problem and the many manifestations of abuse.

At the CPC, we not only see children who are sexually and physically abused, but also those children who have witnessed violence. This number is on the rise and can have a devastating effect on a child. It is hard to imagine what kind of strength it takes to recover from seeing a loved one murdered. Daily we are reminded of the resilience of children. With early and appropriate intervention, most children are able to heal.

CPC serves children and families in Jackson and Cass counties at no charge. This valuable service is the first step in making a victim a survivor. Prior to the CPC’s existence, a child often told his/her story about sexual or physical abuse to many different people, including law enforcement, Children’s Division workers, prosecutors and medical personnel. Requiring a child to tell his/her most guarded secret to strangers was a traumatic process. The CPC has always valued a child’s right to tell his/her story in a safe, comfortable setting that respects their voice and works within their developmental limits. At the CPC, the interviews are digitally recorded so it may be shared with interested partners and spare the child from retelling and reliving the trauma. The CPC recognizes that these events are extremely traumatic for the entire family. Support services are also provided to help connect families and caregivers to community services and to help assist them in finding appropriate coping mechanisms.

Who is Superhero Gary Lasley?

Blog post written by: Gary Lasley about his experience working in the social service field, which eventually led him to intern as Family Support Specialist at the Child Protection Center. Gary is cherished by the CPC. We miss having him at the CPC, but know that he is out there doing great things for the world. He is also an avid KU fan! Can you tell?

Gary Lasley

In 1994, I was a member of the State of Missouri’s Task Force on Poverty which led me to the small towns located in the “bootheel” of the state.  At that time, these towns (Hornersville, Hermondale, and Caruth, among others) had a teenage pregnancy rate, along with its unemployment rate, beyond that of the nation’s average.  The knowledge gained from that experience fed my drive to become more involved in the ultimate mission of improving the lives of children.

After making the decision to get out of the political arena and pursue social work, my road led me to the Kansas City metropolitan area.  Serving as the Public Relations Director, and eventually Assistant Director, of a social service organization in Kansas City, I had the responsibility of overseeing the agency’s operations, services and programs; one of which was a women’s domestic violence shelter.  During my tenure, I noticed that many of the women entering the shelter were accompanied by their children.  These children were often victims of the abuse as well; physically, emotionally, and sexually.  However, because the main focus to the shelter was to empower the women, their children were often overlooked.  Although these kids were victims as well, they were often thought to be defiant, oppositional, or just “bad.”

Returning to school to pursue a Master’s degree in Social Welfare from The University of Kansas, I had the opportunity to advance my education surrounding abused children with the Child Protection Center (CPC).  During my practicum placement with CPC, I was able to witness the extraordinary work the staff provided the children and their families.  Working alongside other professionals from law enforcement and medical fields, the staff remained sensitive to the circumstances of the children while providing confidential, knowledgeable advocacy assistance to their non-offending parent/guardian.

The experience, education, and exposure I gained from observing and working alongside the CPC staff, as well as their collaborative partners, was invaluable.  The experience serves as an inimitable foundation as I continue to advocate for children.

Spotlight on our Family Support Specialist, Elizabeth Breedlove!

Blog post written by: Elizabeth Scott Breedlove, Family Support Specialist Graduate Intern at the Child Protection Center. Elizabeth is also a Master’s of Social Work student at the University of Kansas.

Elizabeth is finishing up her internship with the CPC this month, and volunteered to write this blog post in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month. Thank you, Elizabeth!

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I have been working in mental health for the past 10 years. My career began with adolescent psychology within the school district and individual clientele’s homes to working with acute care crisis adult patients with severe and persistent mental illness in an inpatient setting and dual diagnosis clients in an outpatient setting. I began to notice that many of my patients were coming to me with a history of sexual abuse. I began to realize that my patients had survived very serious abuse that had gone untreated, unreported, and gravely misunderstood.

Realizing that I was very much a part of this misunderstanding, when I began my Master’s program at KU, I requested to work with victims of sexual abuse and their families first hand. This brought me to my first experience working inside a Child Advocacy Center. I am trained as a Family Support Specialist at the Child Protection Center (CPC). I meet with the non-offending family members/care-providers of a child who has been sexually abused, physically abused, or witnessed a homicide. I provide these courageous families with support and crisis counseling to meet them in their moment of grief and hardship. I also provide families with resources they might not have had access to, such as referrals for counseling, clothing, shelter, and mental health services.

From my experience interning at CPC, I now feel that I will be able to better serve my clients and patients in my future social work career. I have also been exposed to the education of child sexual abuse and its prevalence and effects – which has enabled me to raise awareness in the classroom and among my colleagues. This experience has truly been invaluable.

During National Child Abuse Prevention month I have continually been encouraging the parents that come in to talk openly to their children about keeping their bodies safe. When these issues are openly discussed at home by caregivers, then a child feels free to ask questions that may be confusing for a child. It also creates a safe atmosphere in which a child feels they can tell their caregivers if something is making them uncomfortable that otherwise a parent may not have known.

“Judge approves forensic interview for rape victim”

This following news article by Rapid City Journal in South Dakota: “Judge approves forensic interview for rape victim” demonstrates the importance of providing forensic interviews to victims of abuse. The girl in the article should have been provided a forensic interview that was properly recorded, two years ago. Unfortunately, she was not provided this opportunity. Now, two years later, she is being possibly pressured to share her story once again in order for justice to be delivered. Forensic interviewers serving at Child Advocacy Centers are specially trained to conduct interviews with children. At Child Advocacy Centers, forensic interviews are recorded so that children only have to share their story once, and avoid the trauma of having to share their story multiple times. Recording interviews also preserves a child’s statement for legal purposes. In this way, children’s voices are heard and honored.

What are your thoughts about this situation? Click here to read the full article. Please leave a comment below.

Elizabeth Smart recognizes the importance of Child Advocacy Centers

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An Evening With Elizabeth Smart, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, KCTV5’s Bonyen Lee interviewing Elizabeth Smart

Last year, Elizabeth Smart came to Kansas City share her story. As a survivor of child abuse and abduction, Elizabeth recognizes the importance of child advocacy centers. Examiner.com reports “When [Elizabeth] was discovered with and rescued from her captors, her family wrapped her in a cocoon of protection from the media, but [Elizabeth] was still required to answer question after question from investigators, prosecutors and others representing the legal system….[Elizabeth] expressed her belief that if a child protective center—like the one in Kansas City—had been available to her, it would have helped move the justice system more quickly and could have made the process easier to navigate.” Click here to read more of the article.

The Child Protection Center is the only nationally-accredited child advocacy center serving Jackson and Cass Counties in Missouri. We are so thankful that Elizabeth Smart traveled to Kansas City last year to promote the importance of child advocacy centers!

How does the Children’s Advocacy Center model work?

Ever wonder how a child advocacy center (CAC) works? CACs coordinate multidisciplinary team members to provides services to children and their caretakers throughout the investigation of abuse. Check out this great info graphic to understand how CACs coordinate services! The core function of CACs are captured in blue.

How do CACs work