The Children’s Advocacy Center of East Central Missouri is now up and running in its new location — 14 South Washington Ave. in Union.

The center, which serves Franklin, Crawford, Osage and Gasconade counties, previously was located in Sullivan. That building was bought out and the space turned into a communications center, said Kathy Carr, children’s advocate.

Carr said the Union location will make visiting the center more convenient for families.

“When a hotline call is made, where a child lives is where they go (for the report),” she explained. “Most of our clients come from Franklin County.”

Last year, the center saw close to 100 kids from Franklin County, the highest number of the four counties. The second highest was Crawford County, with approximately 30 children interviewed.

“We don’t want the children to have to travel a long way to tell their stories,” she said.

The primary purpose of the center is conducting forensic interviews who allege child abuse or neglect. The interviews are part of investigations for the children’s division and law enforcement, Carr said.

The new center is more than twice as large as the previous location with space for storage and filing. And, it has more bathrooms for clients and employees.

A open house is planned at a later date.

Carr said new digital recording equipment has been delivered and the first interview in the new location was held earlier this week.

Tracy Wiecking, assistant CEO of Comtrea, the parent organization of the Children’s Advocacy Center of East Central Missouri, said the previous recording equipment was outdated.

Thanks Community

Wiecking said the center is thankful to the community, which helped chip in for renovations at the new building.

The Franklin County Community Resource Board donated $15,000 toward the renovation, which included creating an office space for staff, the building of a file room and other upgrades to make the workspace efficient.

The Franklin County Area United Way donated $1,000 toward the cost of the new recording equipment.

Additionally, the building owner agreed to a tax credit as a donation for part of the monthly rent.

Fidelity, which bought their previous building, also made a donation toward the renovation.

“Now that we’re getting established we’re in the parameters of our regular budget,” Wiecking said. “We’ve been very fortunate to have the assistance and support of the community.”

Wiecking said that although the move was not planned, the transition has gone well because of the community support.

Dinner, Dance

The Children’s Advocacy of East Central Missouri will host its 12th annual sweetheart dinner and dance Saturday, March 8, at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Washington.

Cocktail hour and opening of the silent auction will be at 6 p.m. and dinner will be at 7 p.m.

For sponsorship information, to donate an auction item or to reserve tickets, people may call Carr, 573-368-9063 or 636-584-0222, or email