Children’s Center asking for additional support as they face reduced funding

Center asking for stuffed animals, snacks and juice as budget tightens

JOPLIN, Mo. – For the last three years as a counselor for the Children’s Center, Teressa Berry has tried to kelp kids through hard times in interactive ways.

“We want to create a counseling atmosphere for the kids that can be a fun opportunity,” says Berry.

She uses thinks like toys, art and books to help young victims of sexual and physical abuse get through the process they’ve experienced.

“Children may not have some of the words to express the hurt and pain that they are going through, but their language is play,” says Berry. “Yes, they are toys, but we call them our therapy tools to be able to help process some of that trauma.”

In 2019, the center served 1197 children, with 165 of them receiving trauma-focused counseling.

But right now, they don’t have the money to buy the tools they need to do that, or snacks and drinks for the kids, because of a reduction in their funding.

“We have tightened up our budget and really are relying heavier on our community resources to sustain,” says Director Vickie Dudley.

Dudley says the center requested more funding for this year so they could expand their counseling service, but instead of getting more funding – they got the same amount that they did in 2017.

And with increasing costs and more kids needing the service, it’s having a big impact. Especially when it comes to counseling.

“The funding has effected our continued supplies that we need to continue services. However, that doesn’t change the quality. However, that doesn’t change the quality of the counseling we will continue to provide,” says Berry.

The center is asking for people to donate stuffed animals, snacks, drinks and other things.

You can find their wishlist here: https: //www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/22M0YZ8LWQKVE/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_ws_xCcHBbG1SNYGW?fbclid=IwAR2gtuRZXYiJ3NIXd3dT_vaQx2XeAwecBBAuJYhXTXZYL5GQH77IahhilNM

Dudley would not say or confirm where the funds come from, how much they received, or how much they requested in comparison to how much they got.

But, according to a release from the Missouri Department of Social Services that KOAM found, the Children’s Center gets funds from the Victims of Crime Act — where offenders pay penalties for committing crimes.

Those federal funds are dispursed by the Missouri Department of Social Services to victim advocate agencies throughout the state. Each disbursement covers two years.

According to the department’s budget award notice, the Children’s Center requested 1.965 million dollars. But they received 1.077 million dollars. That’s actually 46 thousand dollars less than they received in 2017 when they were awarded 1.124 million.

Other local agencies, like the Lafeyette House and Jasper County CASA, also either saw reductions in their award amount or didn’t get any funds.

If you want to learn more about the Victims of Crime Act, follow this link:

https://dss.mo.gov/dfas/victims-of-crime-act/

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