Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

June 29, 2011 13:12 ET

Government Announces Support for New Child Advocacy Centre

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - June 29, 2011) - Shelly Glover, Member of Parliament for Saint Boniface and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance today represented the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and joined the Honourable Gord Mackintosh, Minister of Family Services and Consumer Affairs of the Manitoba Government, to announce the opening of Manitoba's first Child Advocacy Centre, which will help better serve children and youth that have been victims or witnesses of crime.

"Our Government is committed to supporting victims of crime, particularly the most vulnerable among us – our children," said Minister Nicholson. "Today we celebrate the opening of a child-focused facility that will make it easier for childrens' voices to be heard in the criminal justice system."

Child Advocacy Centres (CACs) aim to minimize the trauma of being a child victim of crime. CACs are a collaborative team of professionals who work in a child-friendly setting to help a child or youth victim or witness navigate the criminal justice system. The work of the CAC staff can greatly reduce the emotional and mental harm to the child and their approach can improve the quality of evidence brought forward in trials. Better evidence can lead to more charges laid, a higher rate of guilty pleas and convictions, and more appropriate sentences.

"Manitoba's first Child Advocacy Centre will make a significant contribution to helping young victims of crime, and preparing witnesses to reduce the trauma and assist the prosecution," said Parliamentary Secretary Glover. "As we outlined in our Economic Action Plan, our Government has made standing up for victims and their families a priority."

The $350,000 in federal funding over two years comes from the $5.25 million in funding over five years that was announced October 7, 2010, and is made available through the Victims Fund at the Department of Justice. In 2007, the Government announced the Federal Victims Strategy and committed $52 million to respond to the needs of victims of crime. In Budget 2011, the Government announced $26 million over the next two years to continue the Federal Victims Strategy.

BACKGROUNDER:
CHILD ADVOCACY CENTRES

Child Advocacy Centres (CACs) are 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 young victims or witnesses and their families.

Professional services offered by CACs include coordinated interviews by law enforcement and Crown Attorneys, examination of the child by a pediatric child psychologist, and trauma counselling. One goal of a CAC is to minimize the number of interviews and questions directed at a child, thereby minimizing any additional system-induced trauma. This reduction in trauma enables children to provide stronger evidence, which can lead to an increase in charges laid, guilty pleas, convictions and appropriate sentences.

CACs help children and their families navigate the justice system in a number of ways. These include providing the child with a safe and comfortable environment in which to be interviewed by criminal justice professionals, minimizing the number of interviews for the child and ultimately leading to better communication between agencies supporting young victims. Interviews recorded by video, as done by CACs, have proven to be an effective method for gathering valuable information to help both the child and the justice system. CACs may also provide education and training to justice professionals on the best practices for interviewing child victims and witnesses.

Through extensive research, it has been shown that CACs improve experiences for children who have been abused and for their non-offending caregivers. Their experience at a CAC is designed to support their healing and assist them in recovering from the severe stress and trauma of abuse. CACs have also been shown to increase collaboration in child abuse cases. This collaboration assists both the agencies charged with protecting children and youth and law enforcement agencies responsible for investigating criminal activity.

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Contact Information

  • Pamela Stephens
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Justice
    613-992-4621

    Media Relations
    Department of Justice
    613-957-4207
    www.canada.justice.gc.ca