What to Expect
When you arrive at the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre for the first time, you will be met by our staff who will explain what to expect during your visit. Children and Youth are welcomed into one of our two private waiting rooms where they will find age-appropriate activities to help them settle in.
Parents and Caregivers are invited to help their children choose complimentary juice and snacks.
You should plan for a visit that lasts at least two hours.
Each case is different and requires a unique approach. Assessments are conducted by Niagara Regional Police Detectives and/or Family and Children’s Services Case Workers who will introduce themselves and answer any questions you may have prior to the start of the interview.
Interviews are recorded, so those who have experienced abuse do not have to repeat their story to different agencies. Specially trained Niagara Regional Police Detectives or Family and Children’s Services Case Workers conduct the interview. These professionals take care to avoid any further trauma for children or youth.
A medical exam is not needed in all cases. But if the investigators feel it is necessary, an exam will be scheduled at McMaster Children’s Hospital. Investigators will explain the nature of the exam and answer any questions you or your child may have.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get an appointment at the Centre?
Children and youth become involved with the Centre through one of our partner agencies which include: Niagara Regional Police, Family and Children’s Services, and the Family Counselling Centre. This collaborative team works together to support you and your child through every step of the healing process.
Who provides services to my child?
Once your child has been referred to the Centre, they may receive services from Niagara Regional Police detectives or constables who work specifically in the area of child abuse, Children’s Services workers, certified Therapist or our own trauma informed staff.
How should I prepare my child for a visit to the Centre?
When preparing your child for a visit to the Centre, it is important that you start by having a conversation about their questions and concerns. Asking them how they feel about going and what questions they have will help you know how to prepare them for their appointment. It is a good idea to let them know who they will be meeting, brief description of the professional’s role, and a brief description of why they will be meeting them. This should always be done in an age-appropriate way. It is okay if you do not have an answer to all the questions your child asks—do not make one up; instead, let your child know that you do not know the answer but you will get an answer as soon as you can.
Regarding the timing of this discussion, it is a good idea to tell younger children about the appointment only a day or two before the actual meeting, as any longer than this may cause anxiety. For older children (8 and older) it is a good idea to let them know several days prior to the appointment so this gives them an opportunity to ask you questions and talk about how they are feeling about the upcoming visit. Remember, information is power. Often when children are able to ask their questions and get a good understanding of who they will be meeting, their anxiety can significantly decrease.
How long will the visit last?
The length of the visit will depend on what type of service your child is receiving that day. Some appointments will be for a scheduled amount of time and others will be dependent upon the situation. Therapy appointments will have set times while police or FACS interviews will be dependent upon the situation.
Can I accompany my child to the interview?
No. A parent in the room can make it more difficult for children to offer details about traumatic events. For this reason, the interviewer will talk with your child one-on-one.
If I have to bring my other children, is childcare available?
Siblings are welcome to spend time in the private waiting spaces or engage in age-appropriate activities with Parent or Caregiver supervision.