The Cowichan Women Against Violence Society is setting its sights on opening a child and youth advocacy centre in the Cowichan Valley later this year.
Sarah Prowse, the society’s project coordinator for the centre, said a child and youth advocacy centre would provide an integrated response to crimes against children in the region by coordinating joint statement-taking from police and social workers, connecting victims to victim services, navigating children and their families through the complex court processes, and seeking justice for vulnerable children.
She said the Cowichan Valley has high rates of child abuse and maltreatment.
“Unresolved childhood trauma has a profound lifelong impact on children, families, and communities,” Prowse said.
“When treated early, children have the capacity to heal from abuse. CYACs are designed to reduce trauma and provide access to services and support to children and their families to help children move forward with their lives in a healthy and productive way.”
The society’s community-based victim services program is currently run in collaboration with the Ministry of Child and Family Development, RCMP and Island Health’s forensic nurse department.
Prowse said, after discussions with community partners, the society wants to build a more trauma-informed and culturally appropriate interviewing/care for children experiencing abuse.
Prowse said the society has completed the feasibility study for the centre and will soon apply to the Department of Justice Canada for funding.
She said the funding amount to open and run the centre has yet to be determined.
“We’re looking at operating from a stands-alone facility,” Prowse said.
“We only have rough estimates at how much we’ll need for the centre and we’ll likely be looking for more funding than what we’ll receive from the Department of Justice Canada.”
Prowse said the society hopes to have the funding application in the mail by the first week of March, and to have the initial funding in hand by April or May.
“Then we’ll have to find a location and do the necessary renovations there,” she said.
“We’re looking at opening the centre within six months off receiving the funding.”