It’s the mission of the Columbia, Missouri Rainbow House to keep children safe and support families in crisis through prevention, assessment, and intervention in child abuse and neglect.
A wall of handprints greets children, young people and their families who come in the door. They’re encouraged to find a hand that fits theirs, to let them know they’re not alone: another person their size has been here. Rainbow House puts children first and takes a team approach to helping them, focusing not on what they’ve been through, but where they’re going.
“We’re constantly working on awareness,” says Development Director Chad McMinn. “People think abuse and neglect are something they see on a Dateline program, and not something happening here. It’s the same for teen homelessness.”
In Mid-Missouri, the Rainbow House is the only organization of its kind. It’s a local nonprofit that helps any child in the area who is at risk with programs and services that change their lives.
Rainbow House was started in 1986, when long-time foster parent Kathy Hughes wanted to provide a home-like environment so siblings could stay together and continue in their home school. In the last 29 years, Rainbow House has become a nonprofit operating three major programs: a children’s emergency shelter, a regional Child Advocacy Center, and a Homeless Youth Program.
Programs and Services
The Children’s Emergency Shelter temporarily houses children who are in foster care and helps children during a family crisis (the nonprofit expanded to include crisis care in 1992). The only shelter for several counties, Rainbow House gives children a safe place to stay while their parents—struggling with homelessness, unemployment, temporary mental instability or other issues—stabilize their lives.
The Regional Child Advocacy Center (CAC) was created in August of 1998, when the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect and nonprofit’s board of directors realized the area needed one. Rainbow House is the only CAC for 11 counties, and has child therapists with Master’s degrees who conduct the forensic interviews to assess what needs to happen in the child’s best interests. Serving children from birth to age 21, the center is a family-friendly environment that provides therapy for children who have been sexually abused and/or severely physically abused.
The Homeless Youth Program was started as a Teen Center in November of 2007, and is now an off-site living facility called “Sol House.” It offers temporary housing and services for homeless youth as well as an 18-month program that helps them make a meaningful and productive transition into adulthood. The year and a half program includes weekly life skill classes, and requires young people to maintain a job and be on an educational track (pursuing a trade skill or complete a GED or schooling).
In a recent year, 99% of the families helped by Rainbow House were at or below the poverty level. The majority of services were provided to children 5 – 18 years old; 65% of those were girls. In one year, the nonprofit:
- Ensured nearly 3,000 individual safe nights for children and youth
- Provided 622 therapy sessions
- Conducted 396 forensic interviews
- Raised awareness of 1,026 people through community education
Good Giving Practices
Since 2009, JustGive has partnered with the Rainbow House to raise money online. The nonprofit has taken advantage of the services we offer and branded their donation experience.
Marketing Director April Barnett created a custom donation button and placed it prominently on the home page (above the fold), using the JustGive link to take website visitors straight to their online Donation Page.
Rainbow House has customized its Donation Page with its mission and lists a range of six gift sizes (from $10 to $1,000), telling donors what their donation accomplishes. “We switch those around, showing different price points. We think about what people feel good about giving and focus on direct services for the kids,” comments Barnett.
McMinn appreciates JustGive’s donation reports. “I love being able to export it into a pdf or excel file. It’s clean and clear to use.”
– Candy Culver
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