ALBERTA CHILD ADVOCACY CENTRE
The Caribou Child & Youth Centre opened in 2012 as the second child advocacy centre in the province of Alberta. The Centre serves children and youth (under 18) who have experienced sexual, physical or psychological abuse, exploitation, and/or neglect. We also work with those who have witnessed other types of trauma or violence.
The Caribou Centre is located in northern, rural Alberta making us a unique adaptation of the larger city advocacy centres. The City of Grande Prairie has a population of approx. 69,000 people, and yet, serves a much larger demographic regional area. Since the opening of the Centre we have seen a consistent increase in child abuse investigations. Our centre provides a much needed service for the local community, as well as assisting with needs throughout the NW Region.
WHO WE ARE
We have a committed, comprehensive multidisciplinary team that works together to provide the best possible services for children and their families. Intervention and treatment in child abuse cases is strengthened when agencies work toward common goals, which include support services for the child, and holding offenders accountable. Our team consists of: RCMP, Child Family Services, Pace, Victim Services, as well as Crown Prosecution.
WHY WE'RE HERE
Prior to child advocacy centre’s coming into existence, children/youth who disclosed abuse, and/or those who may have witnessed other types of violence, were treated the same as adults. Children were required to tell of their experience over and over as they met independently with police, child protection services, medical personnel, advocates, and crown prosecutors. This experience was often frightening for the victim, and created further stresses and confusion for their family. These families then found themselves navigating the criminal justice system alone, without information, or supports.
WE PROVIDE A SAFE & COMFORTABLE ENVIRONMENT
The Caribou Centre was designed to provide a safe and comfortable environment where children could disclose abuse, thus, reducing the trauma and anxiety for these young people. The centre seeks to provide children and their families with one single point of contact to assist them throughout the process; from initial disclosure, through investigation, court proceedings, and any ongoing support or therapeutic treatment that is necessary. Our goal is to ensure that children are not re-victimized by the very systems designed to protect them.
We know that disclosure is only the beginning of the journey for a victim and his/her family. There may also be a criminal investigation, lengthy court proceedings and trial to be completed. A parent may ask;
- Where do we go from here?
- How can I help my child through this?
- What are the next steps?
- How do we begin the healing process?
In 2015, the Caribou Centre received provincial funding through Alberta Justice and Solicitor General to hire a dedicated children’s therapist that works with victims and their families. We believe that everyone dealing with, or experiencing crisis and trauma has the right to access skilled, caring, and professional services.