Our vision is a community where children and youth are safe, valued and heard, empowering them towards strong futures. We provide support, education and advocacy for children and youth who are or may become victims or witnesses of abuse or crime.
Our specially trained professionals walk with children and youth, and their families, on their journey through the criminal justice process, helping them have a voice and fostering healing, hope and well-being.
Child and Youth Advocacy Program (CYAP) at the Child and Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC): Established in May 2016, the CYAC is a best practice collaborative child and youth friendly model for investigating allegations of child abuse and ensuring these young victims, witnesses and their families are supported through an investigation and beyond, regardless of whether charges are laid. As of March 31, 2019, the CYAC has been involved in more than 1500 investigations involving at least 2300 young people in Waterloo Region.
Our role in the CYAC is to provide oversight of the Centre and deliver support services through the Child and Youth Advocate Program. Our Advocates support children, youth and their families through the investigative process and help connect them to services in the community that help them begin to heal. As of March 31 2019, Advocates have supported more than 1000 young people through the Child and Youth Advocacy Centre
Child Witness Program (CWP): When charges are laid through investigations in the Child and Youth Advocacy Centre or through other police units in Waterloo Region or Guelph and Wellington County, the young victim or witness and their family begins a journey in the criminal court system, which can be overwhelming, complex, and adversarial, and is not designed to meet the needs of children or youth. We reduce the risk of re-victimization through the court process by providing them with information, supporting their mental and emotional health needs and ensuring they feel included in the process. Over the past four year, we have experienced unprecedented growth in demand for these services and in 2018-19, we supported 975 young people and more than 1000 caregivers ensuring that they had the tools and strategies to better support their children. When young people and their families feel heard and are supported through the process, they tell us that they are more able to move on from this challenging time in their life, in a healthy way.
Youth Symposium: Started in 2004, this outreach initiative has connected with more than 39,000 youth and their teachers in Waterloo Region, Guelph and Wellington County. Due to increasing demand, the program now includes 3 consecutive days where Grade 8 Students, along with their teachers, are inspired and challenged by internationally acclaimed speakers. Our Youth Symposium provides the student and teacher audience with ideas, strategies and experiences to spark ongoing conversations about issues relevant at this pivotal time in these young people’s lives.
What People Are Saying
"The Child Witness Centre helped put my mind at ease. When I had questions, I always got an honest answer. When I wanted to know things that I did not want to ask the police or share with others, I felt okay asking my caseworker. It was my safe place in a shattered world."
— A former client
"I feel like what I do impacts the families on many levels. I've seen the look of relief on parents' faces when they learn that there is someone else there to help them support their children when they are emotionally struggling."
— Rebecca Heibein-Kursikowski, Child and Youth Advocate