Our State Motto: Salus populi suprema lex esto, “Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law.”

In 2018, 5,633 children in Missouri were involved in substantiated abuse or neglect incidents according to the Missouri Department of Social Services. Rainbow House wants to make that number zero.

A three-year-old boy was admitted through the Crisis Care program by his mother when she decided to enter rehab. After thirty days, he was back home with her and they still regularly visit Rainbow House for services. An eighteen-year-old homeless male called Rainbow House after walking 350 miles through Kentucky, sleeping in ditches along the way, and taking a bus to Columbia in search of family. He now has a place to live, is employed, and on track to graduate in May. Other children have been so excited to have their own pillow, bed, and even toothbrush for the first time.

Children come to Rainbow House when they have been removed from their home or through the Crisis Care program. They are given home-cooked meals, their own beds, toys, and hygiene products.

Founded in 1986, Rainbow House was the first children’s emergency shelter in mid-Missouri. Since then, the nonprofit has grown to consist of two key components: the Children’s Emergency Shelter and the Regional Child Advocacy Center. It’s located in Columbia but serves eleven counties in Missouri. The multi-disciplinary team at Rainbow House consists of professionals from multiple fields who work together to facilitate a plan for each child.

The Regional Child Advocacy Center offers a Crisis Care program for children whose parents are in crisis and need a safe place to house their children.

“This is the prevention and intervention side of Rainbow House,” Alyson Brooks, Director of Marketing & Public Relations at Rainbow House, says. “We want to offer a service to say, ‘Families, when you see you’re at a boiling point: Stop. Call us. Come place your kids here and deal with what you have to deal with.’ ”

When a child is brought in by a legal guardian, Rainbow House works with the family to ensure the child is returning to a stable home.

“We want to keep the families together. That’s the goal,” Alyson says. “We don’t want people to think they will be punished for bringing their kids to us. Our shelter exists to provide families with an option for safety for their child when there is a crisis situation at home.”

Similarly, the hourly respite care services are offered to families who are experiencing overwhelming stress. But the service can also be used if a family is in dire need of a short-term placement in a professional setting.

Most children stay at Rainbow House for two to four weeks, but some are there for six weeks or only an hour. “We’re family here,” Alyson says. “Even if you’re here for two seconds, you are part of the Rainbow House family.”

Rainbow House uses third-party fundraisers, donations, and social media to meet the children’s needs. Each week on Facebook, a Wishlist Wednesday is posted. “Those are the immediate needs that week,” Alyson says. “They are specific to a child that’s here right now.”

The community usually rallies together to supply the items and volunteers time in various other ways as well.

“These kids are our future,” Alyson says. “We need to do right by them, and what that means is having a place like Rainbow House where the kids can be safe, or they can go and talk about what happened to them, and something can be done for them.”

If you’re interested in getting involved or volunteering at Rainbow House, visit RainbowHouseColumbia.org.