Mission, Vision, Values
Our Mission is to 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 Child Advocacy Centre are committed to making the life of a child or youth who has experienced abuse a little bit easier.
The Centre provides a safe place to help, heal, end child abuse for Niagara’s children and youth who have experienced alleged physical abuse, sexual abuse, become the targets of internet luring, or were the unwilling witness of violence.
The environment is child-focused and private, providing a safe and non-threatening place for children and youth to disclose their experience of abuse to specially trained teams from the Niagara Regional Police Service and Family and Children’s Services Niagara who respectively, investigate to determine criminal charges and protection needs. Mental health professionals from Family Counselling Centre Niagara provide much needed follow-up counselling support at no cost and without a wait list.
Opened on September 16th, 2008 the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre is a registered charitable organization that serves Niagara’s 12 municipalities helping children and families cope with the life altering impacts of child abuse.
Before the Niagara region had the Kristen French CACN, children and youth were subjected to multiple interviews at multiple locations.
The existence of the Centre minimizes the number of times children must tell their story, reducing the trauma of disclosure and ensuring a coordinated, cost-effective delivery of service to Niagara’s children, youth and their supportive family members.
“I knew how tough it was for kids to report what had happened to them. Before the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre, 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 Child Advocacy Centre Advisor
Video Credits: Niagara Regional Police Service Deputy Chief Brett Flynn, Jon Ohlman Video Producer, and his team the Ontario Police Video Training Alliance.
WHO IS KRISTEN
On April 16th, 1992 at the tender age of 15, Kristen French was forcibly abducted in St. Catharines by Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo under the pretence of needing directions. She was held in captivity for three days. Kristen was subsequently murdered on April 19, 1992 and her body was found on April 30, 1992. A videotape made by Bernardo of Kristen’s abduction and torture was used in evidence against him at his trial.
This murder sparked a debate in our country about the need for investigative collaboration and to reduce the potential trauma to victims and their families caused by the investigation and justice process.
Abducted only a few blocks from where the Centre now stands, Kristen’s horrific experience provides a stark reminder of the extreme trauma and loss that can be caused by violence and abuse towards children and young people.
As a community-driven initiative, Doug and Donna French were instrumental in helping to establish a centre in Niagara that now houses an improved approach to child abuse investigations.
Renaming of the Child Advocacy Centre Niagara
The renaming of the Child Advocacy Centre Niagara in 2014 to the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre Niagara pays tribute to the memory of Kristen, whose story represents one of the most horrendous forms of abuse against a young person our community has ever seen.