Kerry Grosch became the director of McPherson's Heart to Heart child advocacy center in January, and she hopes to increase community awareness of child abuse.

Kerry Grosch became the director of McPherson's Heart to Heart child advocacy center in January, and she hopes to increase community awareness of child abuse.
Grosch previously worked in content development and research at Wichita State University, putting together materials for community mental health centers, such as Prairie View. She also taught courses in psychology.
McPherson's Heart to Heart center has been around since 2008, but Grosch said not many people know about it or what services it offers. Heart to Heart also has an office in Newton and serves McPherson, Harvey and Marion counties.
The organization was established in 2000 as a way for agencies to coordinate efforts when investigating cases of child abuse. Prior to the organization's establishment, abuse victims would often have to go through several interviews in police stations, small interview rooms, schools and even homes where the perpetrator lived.
“Without this center, children would be interviewed umpteen times and relive the trauma every time,” Grosch said. “In one case, one child was interviewed 11 times, having to recount in detail the abuse that happened. That's very traumatic for a child.”
Heart to Heart provides child-friendly environments for children to be interviewed. It also offers agencies a place to coordinate efforts and reduce the number of times a child needs to be interviewed.
Heart to Heart can also connect children with any help they might need and ensure their cases don't get lost in the legal system.
“It really reduces the secondary trauma of the abuse,” Grosch said. “It's about helping the child on the road to recovery.”
Between Harvey, McPherson and Marion counties, Grosch said Heart to Heart handles between 130 and 160 cases at a time, most out of McPherson and Harvey counties. About 70 percent of the victims in those cases are female. Almost half are between the ages of 7 and 12, and another 40 percent are ages 6 and under.
“A lot of folks don't understand what counts as abuse, what's illegal or how to report it,” Grosch said. “People don't just show up here. There's a process. We want to educate the community on what they can do.”
In order to help abuse victims, people must first know what signs and symptoms to look for. Grosch said as many as half of child abuse victims won't say they've been abused, even when there's evidence of abuse.
In order to improve community outreach, Grosch is looking for someone to expand the McPherson office, preferably someone with local connections. She also wants to work with community groups to provide forums where people can learn about and discuss the signs of abuse and how to report it.
“Maltreatment of kids is a strong predictor of psychological disorders, delinquency, drug abuse and unemployment. It's a cycle,” Grosch said. “That can drastically change with intervention to get them healing and prevent future crime.”
The McPherson office is located at 400 E. Kansas Ave. Suite 1. Those with questions can contact Grosch at 316-804-4603 or 620-217-9201.
“We can't stop the cycle of abuse without intervention,” Grosch said. “There's so much we can do, and we want to reach out. People don't like to think it happens, but it's there in every community.”