Why is the CAC model of joint investigation important?

In the case of child abuse interviews, the more times children have to repeat their experiences the more likely they will be further traumatized. The special child-friendly setting, the joint one time interview and the specially-trained interviewers all helps to reduce the trauma children can experience when disclosing abuse. This ensures that these youngest of victims are not further traumatized by the very complex system meant to help them.

How many times are children interviewed?

The goal is one time only. That way, the child does not have to repeat & relive their experience numerous times.

What ages do you serve?

Children/youth up to and including the age of 16, occasionally older youth and adult witnesses are interviewed at the Centre.

How many children are from my community?

We are a regional service. Our statistics show that as of at December 31st, 2014 since opening over 3000 interviews from across the region have taken place at the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre. The Centre hosts 80% of the cases of child maltreatment investigations pursued by the NRPS Child Abuse Unit and 100% of the cases assigned to the onsite FACS CAC team.

What is different about interviewing children at the Centre?

It’s extremely important that the partner team works together to take the best approach for the child. Children’s developmental needs are different than adults. Consequently team members are specially trained to interview children. Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) review evidence; Family and Children’s Services (FACS) decide if the child is in need of protection or what other interventions are needed in the family.

In joint investigations these partners will determine who is best suited to undertake the interview depending upon how the disclosure is first made. One person conducts the interview, while another observes in the video recording room. During the process, the person interviewing receives feedback from the other observing team member to ensure the most complete interview possible.

Are other people interviewed?

Other people with knowledge, such as a non-offending parent or care giver, will be interviewed. The team decides on this. No alleged perpetrator interviews happen at the Centre.

Aren’t you duplicating services?

No, the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre is an amalgamation of services and is a one-of-a kind model for child abuse investigation. It is a more efficient and cost effective way to investigate allegations of child abuse. The use of a multi-disciplinary team reduces duplication and increases efficiency and repetitive investigations into each incident of reported child abuse.

How are cases referred to the Centre?

The investigations that are referred to the Centre are governed by legal requirements that child protection and police are mandated to fulfill. When abuse is suspected, there is no change in the reporting process. Reports are made to FACS or NRPS. They each have an intake process. Through that process, it is decided whether an investigation is necessary. If an investigation is necessary, the interviews can happen at the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre.

How are cases reported?

People who suspect abuse have a legal duty to inform FACS. When a report is made, NRPS and FACS each have a screening process. All cases of sexual abuse and severe physical abuse are referred to their child abuse specialized units that work out of our Centre. They make an appointment with the family to visit the Centre. Reports of neglect are handled by other child protection workers. FACS is also known in other areas as the Children’s Aid Society.

When do police become involved?

Police investigate all sexual assault and internet exploitation cases. For physical abuse, they are involved when it is likely criminal charges will be laid. Police also do child interviews for other units; cases where children witness violence (robberies, stabbings, domestic).

Do your partners (FACS & NRPS) support the Centre financially?

Yes. Their support covers 28% of the Centre’s operating budget. Partners are responsible for their own employee salaries.

Is there government funding?

At the moment, there is no core regional, provincial or federal funding. Strong efforts to secure this funding are being made. Grant funding from any Government level is project-specific and time-limited with no assurance of renewal.

Can I have a copy of the Centre’s Financial Statements?

Please see the latest annual report and Case for Support. The latest audited financial statements are available, upon request. Call the Centre’s Executive Director, Brian Bratt at 905-937-5435 ext. 7001.

What happens after the interview?

Family Counselling Services are called upon to provide counselling at no cost and without a waitlist and Family Enrichment Workers provide referral and ongoing support. Other resilience enhancing programming is also available when supported by grants or donors.


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