CALGARY, ALBERTA -- (Marketwired) -- 05/23/13 -- Today, the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, attended the grand opening of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and announced that close to $350,000 in federal funding will be made available to the Centre to help young victims and their families.
"Child abuse in all its forms is an appalling crime that has a lifelong impact on its victims," said Minister Nicholson. "Our Government is proud to support the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, whose mission is to provide hope, help, and healing to those impacted by child abuse, and which will be a valuable tool in addressing the needs of young victims and their families in southern Alberta."
Through the Department of Justice's Victims Fund, $349,613 will be available for the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre over two years.
Child Advocacy Centres (CACs) provide a safe, child-friendly environment where a collaborative, coordinated team of professionals works together in a child-focused manner to help a child or youth victim or witness navigate the criminal justice system. The work of a CAC multi-disciplinary team can greatly reduce the emotional and mental harm to the child.
The Government of Canada has allocated more than $90 million over the past six years for initiatives that give victims of crime a more effective voice in the criminal justice system. This includes $10.25 million of funding for new or enhanced CACs. So far, CAC projects have been funded in more than 20 cities or municipalities across Canada.
Since 2006, the Government of Canada has put forward a number of measures to better protect children, including:
-- Putting in place the Safe Streets and Communities Act, which increased penalties for sexual offences against children and created two new offences aimed at conduct that could facilitate or enable the commission of a sexual offence against a child;-- strengthening the sex offender registry;-- increasing the age of protection from 14 to 16 years old;-- eliminating house arrest for criminals who commit serious and violent offences including for all child sexual offences;-- putting in place legislation to make the reporting of child pornography by Internet Service Providers mandatory; and,-- strengthening the sentencing and monitoring of dangerous offenders.
This funding announcement is in keeping with the Government's Plan for Safe Streets and Communities, one of four priorities identified by the Prime Minister. This plan focuses on holding violent criminals accountable, enhancing the rights of victims, and increasing the efficiency of our justice system.
(Version francaise disponible)
Child Advocacy Centres
Child Advocacy Centres (CAC) adopt a seamless, coordinated and collaborative approach to addressing the needs of child and youth victims of crime. CACs seek to minimize system-induced trauma by providing a child-friendly setting for a young victim or witness and his or her family.
Child Advocacy Centres bring together a multi-disciplinary team of police, child protection, medical services, mental health services, and victim services. Professional services offered by CACs include coordinated forensic interviews; examination of the child by a medical professional; victim advocacy, including court preparation, support and trauma assessment; and counselling.
CACs help children and their families navigate the justice system in a number of ways. These include providing a child or youth with a safe and comfortable environment in which to be interviewed by criminal justice professionals and minimizing the number of interviews and questions directed at a child, thereby minimizing system-induced trauma. CACs may also provide education and training to justice professionals on best practices for interviewing child victims and witnesses. As an example, interviews recorded by video are an effective method for gathering valuable information that can help both the young victim and the justice system. Ultimately, CACs lead to better communication between agencies supporting young victims.
It has been shown that investigations conducted by CACs are cost-effective and can expedite decision making by Crown prosecutors laying criminal charges. Parents whose children receive services from CACs are more satisfied with the investigation process and interview procedures, and those children who attend CACs are generally satisfied with the investigation and are more likely to state they were not scared during the forensic interviewing process.
Julie Di Mambro
Office of the Minister of Justice
Department of Justice