Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

July 08, 2015 14:08 ET

Federal Government Provides Funding Toward the Opening of a Child and Youth Advocacy Centre in the North Okanagan

VERNON, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - July 8, 2015) - Department of Justice Canada

Today, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Peter MacKay, accompanied by Colin Mayes, M.P. for Okanagan-Shuswap, announced $350,000 in funding to support the opening of a child and youth advocacy centre (CYAC) in Vernon, British Columbia.

It is expected that the North Okanagan CYAC will open in 2015 and serve more than 250 children and youth per year. The objectives of the pilot project are to:

  • acquire a site;

  • hire and train staff;

  • work with community partners;

  • communicate to local stakeholders about the CYAC and its services; and

  • plan for the long-term sustainability of the CYAC.

Child advocacy centres (CACs) and child and youth advocacy centres help child and youth victims and their families navigate the criminal justice system. They provide a safe child- and youth-friendly environment where a coordinated team of professionals work to meet the specific needs of each person. The work of a multidisciplinary team in a CYAC or a CAC can greatly reduce the emotional and mental harm to child and youth victims involved in the criminal justice system.

In Economic Action Plan 2015, the Government committed to provide additional funding to CACs and CYACs. Starting in 2016-17, the Government will provide $5.25 million over four years, and $2.1 million on an annual basis thereafter, to make the support and services provided by CACs and CYACs more accessible in communities across the country.

Quick Facts

  • The funding to the Child and Youth Advocacy Partnership will be provided as follows:

    • 2015-16: $175,000

    • 2016-17: $175,000

  • This funding follows a successful feasibility study and development project, both funded in part by the Department of Justice. Those projects concluded that the creation of a local child and youth advocacy centre would produce more favourable outcomes for child and youth victims by decreasing stress and trauma, increasing disclosures, improving prosecution and sentencing, providing for early and effective intervention, and ensuring competent coordination of these complex cases.

  • Since 2010, the Government of Canada has invested $10.3 million through the Victims Fund for new or enhanced child advocacy centres and child and youth advocacy centres across Canada.

  • Additionally, the Government has put in place several pieces of legislation to help protect children. These include the Safe Streets and Communities Act, which received Royal Assent in March 2012; the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act which recently received Royal Assent; and the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, which came into force in March 2015.

Quotes

"Our Government is pleased to provide support to programs such as this one in Vernon. Children who are victims of crime or witnesses to serious crime need specialized services that include safe, child-focused environments where victims and their families can get help to navigate the criminal justice system. Our Government is committed to standing up for victims of crime, especially Canada's most vulnerable: our children. The funding being announced today will help support child and youth victims of sexual and physical abuse by making the services provided more accessible for victims in the northern Okanagan Valley."

Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

"A child and youth advocacy centre for the North Okanagan will bring to our region much-needed services for children and youth who are victims of crime or who have witnessed serious crime. This funding will directly benefit people in the Okanagan Valley and will help the community open its own CYAC. I am pleased our Government sees the wisdom of supporting these types of facilities and invests to protect young victims of crime."

Colin Mayes, Member of Parliament, Okanagan-Shuswap

"The North Okanagan Child and Youth Advocacy Centre Partnership is grateful to be receiving $350,000 from the Department of Justice Canada. This funding will allow us to open a Child and Youth Advocacy Centre in Vernon, BC, to serve children and youth who have been physically abused or sexually assaulted or have witnessed a crime such as domestic violence. The Centre's multidisciplinary team of RCMP, child protection social workers, advocates, victim assistance workers, and counsellors will collaborate to ensure that these vulnerable victims receive the specialized support they require as they navigate the criminal justice system and heal from their trauma."

Brooke McLardy, Acting Executive Director, Vernon Women's Transition House Society, On behalf of the North Okanagan Child and Youth Advocacy Centre Partnership

Related Products

- Backgrounder: Federal Victims Strategy and Victims Fund

- Backgrounder: Child Advocacy Centres

Associated Links

- Department of Justice Canada's Policy Centre for Victim Issues

- Department of Justice Canada's Victims Fund

Follow Department of Justice Canada on Twitter (@JusticeCanadaEn), join us on Facebook or visit our YouTube channel.

BACKGROUNDER

Child Advocacy Centres and Child and Youth Advocacy Centres

The Victims Fund provides grants and contributions to support projects and activities to help support victims of crime. More specifically, the fund promotes access to justice, improves the capacity of service providers, fosters the establishment of referral networks, and increases awareness of services available to victims of crime and their families.

Child Advocacy Centres (CACs) are child-focused centres that provide a coordinated approach to investigation, intervention, treatment and prosecution, in child abuse cases. They adopt a seamless and collaborative approach to addressing the needs of child and youth victims or witnesses of abuse to minimize system-induced trauma by providing a child-friendly setting for young victims and their families. Child and Youth Advocacy Centres (CYACs) offer the same services as CACs, but to a broader age-range of victims. Both CACs and CYACs receive funding under the CAC portion of the Victims Fund.

Child Advocacy Centres bring together a multidisciplinary team of police, child protection, medical services, mental health services, victim services, and prosecutors in a child-friendly environment. Professional services offered by CACs include coordinated forensic interviews; examination of the child by a medical professional; victim advocacy, including court preparation and support; trauma assessment; and counselling.

CACs help children and their families navigate the justice system in a number of ways. For example, CACs provide a child or youth with a safe and comfortable environment in which to be interviewed by criminal justice professionals, and they seek to reduce the number of interviews and questions directed at a child. CACs may also provide education and training to justice professionals on best practices for interviewing child victims and witnesses. Ultimately, CACs lead to better communication between agencies supporting young victims and to increased access to services for young victims and their families or caregivers.

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 more likely to say that they were not scared during the forensic interviewing process.

Since 2010, the Government of Canada has allocated a total of $10.3 million to new or enhanced CACs and CYACs. In Economic Action Plan 2015, the Government committed to providing additional funding to CACs and CYACs. It will provide $5.25 million over four years starting in 2016-17, along with $2.1 million on an annual basis thereafter, to make the support and services provided by CACs and CYACs more accessible in communities across the country.

CACs and CYACs that have benefited from Government of Canada funding, either directly or through funding provided to one of their partners, include the following:

Nova Scotia
Sea Star Child and Youth Advocacy Centre Demonstration Project, Halifax
Quebec
Centre d'expertise Marie-Vincent, Montréal
Ontario
Child Advocacy Centre of Simcoe/Muskoka, Orillia
Boost Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, Toronto
Koala Place Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, Cornwall
Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre Niagara, St. Catharine's
Manitoba
Snowflake Place for Children and Youth Inc., Winnipeg
Saskatchewan
Regina Children's Justice Centre, Regina
Saskatoon Centre for Children's Justice, Saskatoon
Alberta
Caribou Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, Grand Prairie
Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, Calgary
British Columbia
Alisa's Wish Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows
Sophie's Place Child Advocacy Centre, Surrey
Vancouver Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, Pilot Project, Vancouver
The Government has also provided funding for projects that explore the creation, development or adaptation of the CAC model in the following communities:
Ontario
Brampton
Kitchener
Ottawa
Sioux Lookout
British Columbia
Vernon (North Okanagan Child and Youth Advocacy Centre project)
Victoria (ORCA)
West Kootenay Boundary (Safe Kids & Youth (SKY) Coordinated Response)
Yukon
Whitehorse (Project Lynx)
Northwest Territories
Yellowknife
Nunavut
Iqaluit (Umingmak Child and Youth Protection Centre)

BACKGROUNDER

Federal Victims Strategy and Victims Fund

The Federal Victims Strategy brings together federal efforts to give victims of crime a more effective voice in the criminal justice system. It was created in 2007 and made permanent in 2011. The objective of the Strategy, which is led by the Department of Justice Canada, is to give victims a more effective voice in the criminal justice system. The Department works in close collaboration with other federal departments and agencies, as well as victims, victim advocates, provincial and territorial governments, service providers, and others involved in the criminal justice system. The Department develops policy and criminal law reform, funds various programs to meet the needs of victims of crime, explores best practices to address victims' needs, and raises awareness about the concerns of victims of crime and their role in the criminal justice system.

Within the Federal Victims Strategy, the Victims Fund is a grants and contributions program administered by the Department of Justice. More than $13M is available each year to provinces, territories and non-governmental organizations whose projects, activities and operations support the objectives of the Federal Victims Strategy.

The Victims Fund provides funding to projects and activities that:

  • Enhance victim assistance programs across Canada;

  • Promote access to justice and participation in the justice system and the development of laws, policies, and programs;

  • Promote the implementation of principles, guidelines, and laws designed to address the needs of victims of crime and articulate their role in the criminal justice system;

  • Contribute to increased knowledge and awareness of the impact of victimization, the needs of victims of crime, available services, assistance and programs, and legislation; and

  • Promote, encourage and/or enhance governmental and non-governmental organizations' involvement in the identification of victims' needs and gaps in services, as well as in the development and delivery of programs, services and assistance to victims, including capacity building within non-governmental organizations.

Since 2006, the Government of Canada has allocated more than $158 million to give victims a more effective voice in the criminal justice system through initiatives delivered by the Department of Justice Canada.

More information is available on the Department of Justice Canada's website.

Contact Information

  • Clarissa Lamb
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Justice
    613-992-4621

    Media Relations Office
    Department of Justice
    613-957-4207