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.


Volunteer Spotlight on Paige Nelson!

Blog post written by: Paige Nelson about her experience volunteering at the CPC! Paige is a true blessing. We are grateful for her calm and steady presence.

A little over two years ago, my family and I moved from Pennsylvania to Kansas City, MO for a great job opportunity that my husband was being offered with Harley Davidson. We were all very excited about this opportunity but with this move, I was being asked to say goodbye to my creative job of 10 years as assistant director for the performing arts department at our local high school. It was simply a time of transition, growth, and adventure as we were finding and building a new community.

My twin daughters changed schools and finished 2nd grade here while my son finished his final year of preschool and started Kindergarten the next fall.

I completely underestimated the amount of time it would take us to feel like we knew our way around, to find doctors and dentists, to feel comfortable in our new home and schools, and to find that treasured grocery store where you can race in and out in less than 30 minutes. It took awhile but in that time we grew as a family, met many kind people, had the space to question what we really wanted to do, began friendships, and embarked on this new journey together.

Later that fall, I finally felt like I was settled and was ready to start sinking in some roots. My kids were now all in school, my husband was feeling fulfilled with his new responsibilities, and I was half way through a graduate studies program in Inner Awareness Training with the School of Humanity and Awareness. I loved the work I was doing and had visions of creating my own creative expressions business that would combine my BFA in theatre with my graduate work in Inner Awareness. I had experience in creating similar programs with the kids back in Pennsylvania but this was an opportunity to design one myself. I began to organize my thoughts and put some energy into designing what a program like that may look like. I also began working at Starlight Theatre as one of the High School adjudicators and as guest acting teacher.

As I was designing my business and going to school, I was also seeking volunteer opportunities that felt aligned to being in service to creative expression, self worth, and inner awareness. I researched various organizations and came upon Child Protection Center. I was immediately drawn into their mission statement, “The Mission of the Child Protection Center is to respect the child and protect their voice throughout the investigation of child abuse.”

The idea of protecting a child’s voice was inspiring and I felt like that resonated with what I was creating in supporting children to find their voice through creative expression. I thought this could be a mutually beneficial volunteer opportunity. I contacted Laura at the CPC and she arranged for a meeting. I was inspired listening and sharing during this meeting as we talked about what I may bring and how my unique offering of creative engagement may be able to offer support in their waiting room space. This space tends to get very active with many families and children ranging in age, all experiencing their own levels of uncertainty and carrying the drive to move beyond what trauma may have brought them there. We wondered if it could be a place where we could work to create more safety, command more care, and while having fun, hold a place of kind awareness as these families have an important job to do when they come and we want to support that. So, that became my intention. I carry that intention with me….always.

I volunteer a few mornings a month at CPC with the intention of using play and fun to create safety, command care, and hold awareness in support of the job these courageous kids are doing to lead the way for their voices to speak their truth. Along with the wide variety of fun toys already there, I also bring a bag full of creative supplies like stickers, colored pencils, books, coloring pages, dry erase boards, my own love of being a mother, and my theatrical imagination as I spend time in the CPC waiting room simply engaging in play with the kiddos there waiting to be seen by one of the forensic interviewers. I am simply there to meet them with kindness, welcoming energy, creativity, and kind attention. It is my wish that all kids that walk through the door feel safe, welcome, and deeply cared for while they are in the CPC space. The irony is that their laughter during one of our tea parties or stuffed animal games or their imagination bursting through a village we make with blocks or trains or the peace that I can see when we just color a picture together, gives me way more than I could ever give them. I never know what fun play I will get into when I am there and I always say I have the best volunteer job ever—to simply give attention to and play with remarkable kids. As I am there, I can see creative expression allow these kiddos to come alive and I have learned so much about the command of care that I want for my own business in creative expression.

I love this opportunity to volunteer and to support the CPC mission with all of the fantastic individuals there doing their own unique and vitally important jobs. It has opened my heart, inspired my vision for my business that I will finally launch this summer in a creative camp of my own and it continues to grow my strength. I am grateful for this amazing organization.

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.

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!


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.