TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 20, 2012) - Today, the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced federal government funding for Toronto's first Child and Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC).

This project brings together Boost, a Toronto based agency committed to eliminating abuse and violence of children, youth and their families; police; the Crown prosecutor's office; health authorities; and child welfare agencies, to serve young victims of crime and young witnesses to serious crime.

"Our government remains unwavering in our commitment to protecting Canadians, particularly those most vulnerable, such as young victims of crime," said Minister Nicholson. "We commend Boost Child Abuse Prevention & Intervention for their ongoing services and support to children, youth and their families and we are pleased to play a part in supporting this Centre."

Boost will be funded to plan, facilitate and develop a Child and Youth Advocacy Centre that will aim to minimize the trauma of being a child victim of crime or witness to crime. A CYAC is a place where a team of professionals work in a child-friendly setting to help a child or youth victim or witness navigate the criminal justice system.

"The CYAC will be a strong and effective partnership of all of the key organizations that assist child and youth victims of abuse," said Karyn Kennedy, Executive Director of Boost. "Bringing all of these services together in one location will significantly improve our ability to respond effectively to children, youth and their families when abuse is reported."

The $278,865 in federal funding over two years comes from the $5.25 million in funding over five years that was announced on October 7, 2010, and is made available through the Victims Fund at the Department of Justice Canada. In 2007, the Government announced the Federal Victims Strategy and committed $52 million over four years to respond to the needs of victims of crime. In Budget 2011, the Government announced $26 million in renewed funding over the next two years to continue the Federal Victims Strategy.

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A Child Advocacy Centre (CAC) adopts a seamless, coordinated and collaborative approach to addressing the needs of child and youth victims of crime and their families. 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. A CAC is designed to support a child's healing and assist them in recovering from abuse.

Professional services offered by CACs include coordinated interviews by law enforcement and child protection, examination of the child or youth by a medical professional and trauma counselling. One goal of a CAC is to minimize the number of interviews and questions directed at a child or youth, 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, minimizing the number of interviews and ultimately leading to better communication between agencies supporting young victims. 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 to help both children and the justice system.

Research in the United States has shown that investigations conducted by CACs are cost-effective and expedite decisions to lay criminal charges by prosecutors. Parents whose children receive services from CACs were more satisfied with the investigation process and interview procedures than parents who did not receive services from CACs. In addition, those children who attended CACs were generally satisfied with the investigation and were more likely to state they were not scared during the forensic process compared to children who did not attend CACs. CACs have also been shown to increase collaboration between the agencies charged with protecting children and youth, and law enforcement agencies responsible for investigating criminal activity.

Contact Information:

Julie Di Mambro
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice