CORNWALL, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 1, 2012) - The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, joined by Guy Lauzon, Member of Parliament for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, today announced funding to help establish a Child and Youth Advocacy Centre for young victims of abuse in the Cornwall, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, and Akwesasne area.
"Our Government is committed to protecting victims of crime and giving them a greater voice in the criminal justice system," said Minister Nicholson. "Today, along with my colleague Guy, we are taking action to support children and youth who are victims of abuse."
"For young victims of crime and abuse, navigating through the criminal justice system can be quite traumatic as well as physically and mentally exhausting," said Mr. Lauzon. "That is why our Government is working to ensure young victims in the Cornwall area have access to high-quality programs - all under one roof."
The Government of Canada is providing PrévAction with $118,880 over two years to assist in creating a Child and Youth Advocacy Centre that would offer coordinated services under one roof for children and youth who are victims of abuse. The funding will assist the organization's leaders to visit selected established child advocacy centres in order to gather information about current approaches, programs, services and best practices. PrévAction will also work with numerous community leaders and partners in creating a centre that improves the delivery of services and dissemination of information about abuse and its prevention.
"We are thankful for the funding that will help us to create a much-needed resource for our community," said Richard Allaire, Chair, PrévAction and Child and Youth Advocacy Centre. "We will incorporate other CYACs' best practices into our Centre's operations, as we will use all the wisdom and efforts of our partners to see that justice is done for children, youth and their families with essential social, medical and mental health services."
The Government has allocated more than $90 million over the past six years for initiatives that benefit victims of crime. Funds are available to provinces, territories and non-governmental organizations for programs and services that give victims of crime a more effective voice in the criminal justice system.
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BACKGROUNDER: FEDERAL VICTIMS STRATEGY AND VICTIMS FUND
Since 2007, when the Government announced the Federal Victims Strategy, more than $90 million has been committed to respond to the needs of victims of crime. Most recently, in Economic Action Plan 2012, the Government committed an additional $5 million over five years for new or enhanced Child Advocacy Centres, bringing the total federal Government commitment to Child Advocacy Centres to $10.25 million.
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 Policy Centre for Victim Issues at the Department of Justice works in close collaboration with federal colleagues as well as victims, victim advocates, provincial and territorial governments, service providers and others involved in the criminal justice system. The Department of Justice develops legal policy and criminal law reform, funds various programs for victims of crime, and shares information about issues of importance to victims of crime.
Within the Federal Victim Strategy, the Victims Fund is a grants and contributions program administered by the Department of Justice. Funds are available each year to fund provinces, territories and non-governmental organizations whose projects, activities and operations support the objectives of the Federal Victims Strategy.
The Victims Fund funds projects and activities that:
- enhance victim assistance programs across Canada;
- promote access to justice and participation in the justice system and the development of law, 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 victim needs and gaps in services and in the development and delivery of programs, services and assistance to victims, including capacity building within non-governmental organizations.
More information is available on the Department of Justice Canada's website.
BACKGROUNDER: CHILD ADVOCACY CENTRES
A Child Advocacy Centre (CAC) adopts a seamless, coordinated and collaborative approach to addressing the needs of child and youth victims of crime. A CAC seeks to minimize system-induced trauma by providing a child-friendly setting for a young victim or witness and his or her family.
Professional services offered by CACs include coordinated forensic interviews, examination of the child by a medical professional, victim advocacy 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.
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. 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 process.
A CAC is designed to support a child's healing and assist them in recovering from the severe stress and trauma of abuse. CACs have also been shown to increase collaboration between the agencies charged with protecting children and youth and criminal justice agencies responsible for investigating and prosecuting criminal activity.