Gov. Sam Brownback’s office on Wednesday announced more than $1 million in state-funded grants to children’s advocacy centers throughout Kansas.
The 17 centers coordinate and provide services for children who may have experienced physical or sexual abuse.
“This is extraordinarily important for our agency,” said Diana Schunn, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County.
The center, she said, last year worked with local law enforcement agencies and the Kansas Department for Children and Families to coordinate investigations of abuse and neglect involving 1,800 children.
“Sexual abuse accounts for about 80 percent of that population,” Schunn said.
The remaining 20 percent, she said, involved allegations of physical abuse or children who have witnessed violent crimes.
By coordinating the investigations, she said, the center minimizes the trauma involved when children have to repeat their stories for multiple agencies.
The center also provided advocacy and follow-up services for about 500 “non-offending” parents and guardians.
The centers and their grant totals:
- Sunflower House, Shawnee, $165,369.
- Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County, Wichita $115,705.
- Horizons Mental Health Center, Hutchinson, $67,520.
- Family Crisis Center, Great Bend, $65,127.
- Children’s Advocacy Centers of Kansas, Shawnee, $62,725.
- LifeHouse Child Advocacy Center, Topeka, $62,435.
- Heart to Heart, Newton, $58,250.
- Western Kansas Child Advocacy Center, Scott City, $53,763.
- Hope Unlimited, Iola, $49,858.
- SOS Child Advocacy Center, Emporia, $49,823.
- Sunlight Child Advocacy Center, El Dorado, $47,904.
- Children’s Advocacy Center, Pittsburg, $45,218.
- Alliance Against Family Violence, Leavenworth, $44,190.
- Sunflower CASA Project, Manhattan, $41,118.
- Child Advocacy and Parenting Services, Salina, $40,041.
- Meadowlark House, Dodge City, $36,908.
- North Central Kansas CASA, Concordia, $15,759.
The annual grants were first awarded in 2008.
Michelle Herman, who runs Sunflower House in Shawnee, said most children involved in the agency’s investigations know the adults who are suspected of sexually abusing them.
“Nationally, it’s said that 90 percent of the kids who are sexually abused can name their alleged perpetrator,” Herman said. “At Sunflower House, we find that percentage to be between 99 and 100 percent. It’s someone in the family, in the neighborhood or in the community, or at school.”
Sunflower House’s catchment area includes Johnson and Wyandotte counties. Founded in 1997, Sunflower House is the longest-running children’s advocacy center in Kansas.