What is child abuse?

Child abuse is a serious crime in all 50 states, sometimes charged as child endangerment and/or assault and battery. Broadly defined as any type of cruelty visited upon a child, child abuse includes physical battery, mental or emotional abuse, neglect, exploitation, and sexual abuse. Most states, including Missouri, define the crime as an act or failure to act that:

  1. Results in imminent risk or serious harm to a child's health and welfare due to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse;
  2. Affects a child (under the age of 18 in Missouri);
  3. By a parent or caregiver who is responsible for the child's welfare.

Missouri law defines abuse as "the infliction of physical, sexual, or mental injury against a child by any person eighteen years of age of older." The state defines neglect as "the failure to provide, by those responsible for the care, custody, and control of a child under the age of eighteen years, the care reasonable and necessary to maintain the physical and mental health of the child." 

How is Missouri impacted by foster care?

Thousands of people across the state of Missouri are impacted by foster care each year. Want to know how? Here are some facts and figures:

  • The average length of stay for a Missouri child in foster care is 2 years.
  • There are over 68,000 reported incidents of neglect in Missouri last year.
  • 19,400 children are in the care of Missouri Children's Division right now.
  • Children in foster care have an average of 3 placements.
  • The average age of a foster child is 8-years old.
  • Children over the age of 9 are 50% less likely to be adopted than younger children.
  • Over 500 kids aged out of the foster care system in Missouri last year without a permanent, legal family.
  • More than 7,000 kids enter the Missouri foster care system each year. 6,600 kids exit the Missouri foster care system annually by returning home, guardianship or adoption.
  • Approximately 1,300 foster care adoptions were finalized in Missouri last year.

Do you take insurance, and how does that work?

To determine if you have mental health coverage through your insurance carrier, the first thing you should do is call them. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask them:

  • What are my mental health benefits?
  • What is the coverage amount per therapy session?
  • How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
  • How much does my insurance pay for an out-of-network provider?
  • Is approval required from my primary care physician?

Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.

However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:

* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.

* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threated to harm another person.