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Missouri Children's Services Commission may consider state and private services to tackle child abuse

February 23, 2004
By: Gaurav Ghose
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - To address the issue of statewide child abuse and ways to prevent it, the Missouri Children's Services Commission may consider coordinating state and private services.

In its monthly meeting Monday, the commission heard Lucia Erikson-Kincheloe, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Missouri, explain how her organization could extend services and work together with the commission to tackle child abuse.

Prevent Child Abuse is a statewide grassroots coalition, coordinating services for children and families to provide a supportive environment preventing abuse.

"We are the doers," said Erikson-Kincheloe. "We work with local community councils that are affiliated with us."

Prevent Child Abuse is in the process of putting together a statewide plan for "primary prevention," which Erikson-Kincheloe explained as a way "to stop (abuse) before the abuse takes place."

She said that her organization has been planning for less than a year, hoping the plan will be implemented within the next two years. The effort would be collaboration with the Children's Service Commission.

"We need them as much as they need us," Erikson-Kincheloe said. "Our focus is to ultimately influence policy. But the interim strategic step is to catalogue what exists in prevention, the best practices and where communities are lacking in prevention."

Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson, D-Columbia, who chairs the commission, said that Monday's meeting helped commission members grasp an idea of how Prevent Child Abuse works.

"We were focusing on their activities and seeing the ways in which they work with various departments and local communities and what we need to do to focus on child abuse issue," Wilson said.

The next meeting is scheduled March 29.