The task force will serve Nodaway, Atchison, Holt, Gentry and Worth counties. The facility will be housed on the lower floor of the Nodaway County Administration Center with entrance available on the east side of the building or by elevator through the main entrance. Construction will begin in December with a planned opening in March or April.
Jackie Cochenour is the director and has been active in the planning stage, writing the one-year grant which will be used for salaries, training and office equipment, and undertaking the activation of the program.
The task force’s two primary objectives are:
• Respond to and provide the area with a children’s advocacy task force and personnel for investigations to occur involving victims and/or witnesses of crimes who are minors.
• Prevent crimes against children by providing educational outreach campaigns, trainings and community initiatives to increase awareness and knowledge across the region with the primary goal of preventing child sexual abuse, neglect, trafficking and exploitation from occurring.
Cochenour said her goal for the task force is to “bring our communities’ adults together to understand that it is all of our responsibility to keep our kids safe and to prevent these crimes from occurring.”
“Through the help, collaboration and support of regional agencies who are the primary responders to child abuse investigations, support services and community prevention, we will now have a regional support system unlike we have ever seen before,” Strong said.
The Nodaway County Commissioners offered the space in the administration center and the money for construction costs.
Forensic interviews will begin at the first of the year. Maryville Public Safety has offered the use of a soft interview room until the advocacy center can be completed. Funds to employ forensic interviewers has been set aside.
Nodaway County Treasurer Marilyn Jenkins will keep track of the $191,905 grant for the advocacy center.
The children’s advocacy task force becomes the case manager for the child after a report is made. It uses its resources to find everything necessary for the child. Its task is to minimize the times the child has to recount the incident in forensic interviews. For surrounding counties, it will cut down on traveling time and cut down the time to the interview from the current five days to the same or next day.
After the first year, the advocacy task force will need support from the communities benefitting from its services. Donations can be made online at bit.ly/NWMOTaskForce. A one-time or a monthly donation can be made and it can be shared on social media. Individuals or businesses can create personal fundraisers for the task force.
For more information about the Northwest Missouri Children’s Advocacy Task Force or to schedule a training session, contact Cochenour at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cochenour is planning a community open house for the facility once it is completed. Local businesses will be able to tour the facility by making arrangements with her. It is hoped businesses will support the task force with monetary donations.