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Center for child victims to open soon

FARMINGTON — Soon, children who are victims of crimes won’t have to go very far to tell their side of the story.

Comtrea’s Children’s Advocacy Center of East Central Missouri has found a location for a satellite office at 601 Maple Street in Farmington. The site is possible because of a one-time only $30,000 program improvement grant from the National Children’s Alliance.

The money will be used to pay rent and for some of the other expenses associated with opening the office

Connilee Boehne, director of the Children’s Advocacy Center, said additional funding is needed for office renovations and to purchase child-friendly furniture for the interview room and waiting room; office furniture, supplies and equipment; and toys for the waiting room.

Financial donations will also be needed in order to continue to provide services once the grant period has ended. Other costs include mileage for office staff who will be traveling from the main office in De Soto.

To help, call Connilee at 636-586-1806 or e-mail her at

Boehne hopes to open the Farmington office at the end of March. It will not be fully staffed, rather it will be used more on an as-needed basis.

Boehne said having an actual office in Farmington will be so helpful for victims, victims’ families and police officers. The satellite office will serve victims from Madison, Iron, Ste. Genevieve and St. Francois counties.

Boehne said a satellite office had been talked about for some time. She said it is the community’s support that is allowing them to open it. She said in the last three months, the community has really shown they are behind this.

St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney Wendy Wexler Horn said the Children’s Advocacy Center has proven to be such a terrific resource for prosecutors and for victims. She said a satellite office in Farmington will make it more convenient for everyone involved.

“A lot of hard work went into making this happen,” she said.

Boehne wanted to thank everyone who has helped to get the site, especially members of the search committee which included Horn, Farmington Detective Sgt. Tim Porter, and Tracy Wiecking of Comtrea. Sen. Kevin Engler and Patsy Weddle of Professional Property Management worked with the committee to find a site that best fits their needs.

The owners, Ron Mertz and Pam DeVoe are donating a portion of the rent to help the center keep costs down.

About the center

Area children who are alleged victims of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, severe neglect or who have witnessed a violent crime are taken to the Children’s Advocacy Center where they are interviewed in a child-friendly setting.

At the non-for-profit center, a forensic interview specialist speaks to the child about the allegation while other investigators such as local police watch the interview on closed circuit television in another room.

The center uses a multi-disciplinary team approach by sharing its resources with other child abuse professionals such as police and DFS workers. Having the different agencies work together reduces the number of times the child has to be interviewed.

Age-appropriate questions, drawings, and dolls are used to help children describe their experience without the interviewer putting words in their mouths.

Physical exams or safe exams can be performed at the De Soto center by a doctor from Hillsboro. Those exams take place on a separate day from the interview. A safe exam is only ordered when there is report that the child has been penetrated.

Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at

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