Mission: Service children and families in the Niagara Region who have been impacted by child abuse.
Abuse is a difficult subject for any young person to talk about. Fortunately, the caring professionals at the Kristen French CACN are committed to making the life of a child or youth who has experienced abuse a little bit easier.
The Kristen French CACN provides a safe place to help, heal, end child abuse for Niagara’s children and youth who have been physically abused, sexually abused, become the targets of internet luring, or were the unwilling witness of violence. As a registered charitable organization, the Centre serves all of Niagara’s 12 municipalities, helping children and families cope with the life altering impacts of child abuse.
Opened on September 16th 2008, the Kristen French CACN was the first dedicated stand-alone CAC of its kind in Canada, providing our region with a child-focused and trauma-informed leading practice approach to the investigation and treatment of child abuse.
Before the Niagara region had the Kristen French CACN, children and youth were subjected to multiple interviews at multiple locations.
“I knew how tough it was for kids to report what had happened to them. Before the Kristen French CACN, the interviews had to take place at police stations or other offices where children could find this to be uncomfortable or intimidating. Without wanting to, we were re-victimizing the child.”
Frank Parkhouse, Retired Niagara Regional Deputy Chief of Police and Kristen French CACN Board of Director
Nestled in a welcoming, tree-lined residential neighbourhood, our home-like Centre is child-focused and a family’s privacy is always respected. Children speak about their experience of abuse to specially trained teams that investigate and conduct forensic interviews. These video recorded interviews are proven to be effective in gathering valuable information to help both the child and the justice system.
Children, youth, and families arrive by appointment and enter a calm and welcoming space where they are warmly greeted. They are shown to one of three waiting rooms and are offered snacks and refreshments. The children’s room is full of toys, books and stuffed animals donated by community members. The youth room has a selection of magazines and an IPad.
Police arrive in unmarked vehicles and dress in plain clothes, lessening the anxiety children, youth and families often feel. The assigned on-site child protection worker from Family and Children’s Services are on site to meet police for joint investigations and to support families in the determination of further child protection needs.
When the child or youth is ready, he or she is guided to an interview room where the interview is video-recorded. The specially trained investigation teams are able to talk to children and youth about deeply personal matters in a way that is caring and supportive. These video recorded interviews also provide good evidence, as required by the courts. Whether it’s a young girl or a teenage boy – every child and youth is offered a stuffed animal as a symbol of caring and courage when they leave the Centre.
The Kristen French CACN works not only to aid in gathering evidence, but to counsel and support children and their families through the trauma and its effects. The Kristen French CACN is committed to early intervention by providing children and their families with the resources they need to begin the healing process. In the past too many children have gone through this trauma and not disclosed their abuse or received treatment and therefore struggle for years with addiction, mental health issues, and may continue the cycle of abuse.