1981: Media Reports of Two Child Sexual Assault Cases Stimulated Concerned Citizens from Waterloo Region and London
Media reports of two child sexual assault cases stimulated concerned citizens from Waterloo Region and London to gather 40,000 signatures on a petition to the Minister of Justice seeking tougher sentencing.
1981: Citizens Concerned with Crime Against Children (4Cs) is Formed
A group of Waterloo Region community volunteers, led by Judy Harding, formed Citizens Concerned with Crimes Against Children (4Cs) to address the lack of community services and prevention programs as well as the insensitivity of the Court to victims and their families and public ignorance of the facts of sexual abuse. Volunteers educated themselves about child sexual abuse and determined that prevention depends on community awareness and support.
1982: 4Cs Embarked on a Public Education Program
4Cs embarked on a public education program, developing a colouring book entitled Talking and Drawing About It for use by parents along with a video and guide entitled Talk About It for use by teachers.
A service was established to ensure that sexual assault victims were aware of counselling services.
1983: 4Cs Was Incorporated
Citizens Concerned with Crimes Against Children (4Cs) was incorporated and obtained status as a registered charity.
1980s: Progress Made in the Treatment of Children and Youth as Victims
A 4Cs group was also established in both Cambridge and Guelph. One year later, Cambridge merged with Kitchener-Waterloo (KW) while Guelph contracted with KW’s 4Cs staff to provide child witness services in Guelph and Wellington County.
Progress was made in the treatment of children and youth as victims and witnesses before the criminal courts, including:
- child and youth witnesses were now allowed to testify outside the courtroom or behind screens,
- the use of videotaped evidence of children and youth was permitted,
- the court was required to consider a victim impact statement at the time of sentencing an offender, and
- victim surcharges, to be used for victim assistance, became part of Canada’s sentencing law.
1991: 4Cs Starts a Program to Provide Court Preparation for Children
At the urging of Community Justice Initiatives, 4Cs started the Child Witness Program to provide court preparation for children and youth, 18 years of age and younger, who were victims of sexual assault and were not receiving such services from Family and Children’s Services. The program was modeled after an evidence-based program implemented by the London Family Court Clinic. Ten children were assisted in the first year of the program.
1992: The ‘4Cs House’ Was Established and 4Cs Became a KW United Way Member Agency
The ‘4Cs House’ was established at 100 Lancaster St. E., Kitchener, across from the courthouse, with support from the Sertoma Foundation. Waterloo Regional Police had 24-hour access to the agency’s building, and its video facility, to ensure a child- friendly interview environment.
4Cs became a KW United Way member agency.
1993: Victim’s Rights Legislation and First Executive Director Named
Children were now allowed to testify with support persons accompanying them on the stand and the accused was prohibited from cross-examining the victim.
Judy Harding, 4Cs founder became the agency’s first Executive Director.
1994: Cambridge Facility Opened
The ‘Optimist Room’ was established at 120 Main St. Cambridge, provided by the West Cambridge Optimist Club to facilitate support for Cambridge residents.
1999: Agency Mandate Expanded
A Role Review led to a new mission statement that confirmed the agency would focus exclusively on the Child Witness Program, eliminating Education and Counselling Assistance Programs and the Community Resource Library.
The 4Cs mandate through the Child Witness Program was expanded to include children and youth who were victims or witnesses of all crimes under the age of 18 in Waterloo Region and their families. Family and Children’s Services integrated their child witness services into the 4Cs program.
A child-and-youth-friendly room was established at the courthouse.
2000: Dramatic Increase in Children and Youth Served
The number of children referred to the agency increased from 159 in 1999 to 390 in 2000 due to the expansion of the agency’s mandate. The total number of children assisted through the Child Witness Program since its inception surpassed 1,000.
2002: 4Cs is Renamed as the Child Witness Centre of Waterloo Region
The agency was renamed the Child Witness Centre of Waterloo Region to better describe the work of the agency and the area served. A website was created and long-range fundraising and communication plans were developed.
2003-2004: Cambridge & North Dumfries United Way Member Agency; Youth Symposium Begins
The Child Witness Centre was granted member agency status with the Cambridge & North Dumfries United Way, reflecting the fact that approximately 25% of children served were from those communities. The total number of children assisted through the Child Witness Program since its inception now surpassed 2,000.
In 2004, the agency hosted its first Youth Symposium, welcoming more than 500 students and teachers to the event.
2006: Government Funding Granted; Agency Expands Services to Guelph and Wellington County
The Ministry of Attorney General (MAG) began providing annual funding through the Victims’ Justice Fund and at MAG’s request, expanded services to Guelph and Wellington County.
2008-2010: 25 Year Milestone; Brantford Pilot; Youth Symposium Expanded
At the Ministry of Attorney General’s request, expansion of services to Brantford was piloted, but due to a lack of funding, the project ended in 2010. Support was completed for all existing clients from Brantford.
In 2008, the Child Witness Centre celebrated 25 years of community service as a registered charity.
The Youth Symposium expanded into Guelph and Wellington County, hosting the day-long program across two consecutive days with a combined registration of 3,500 Grade 8 students from Waterloo Region and Guelph and Wellington County.
2011&2012: Agency Receives Substantial Funding; United Way of Guelph Wellington Dufferin Member Agency
We received $265,000 from the Rotary Club of Kitchener-Conestoga Dream Home Lottery to support the purchase and renovation of a new home for the Agency.
In 2012, the agency also began receiving funding from the United Way of Guelph Wellington Dufferin.
2013: Agency Moves and Launches New Logo
The Child Witness Centre moved into our home at 111 Duke St. E., Kitchener – located in close proximity to the new Waterloo Region consolidated courthouse.
New branding and logo were launched.
The swirl in the logo was created to symbolize the transition from darkness to light, brightness, hope and optimism, as we journey with children, youth, and their families through the criminal justice system.
2013: Agency Leads a Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study for a Child and Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC)
With funding support from the Department of Justice, the Child Witness Centre led a needs assessment and feasibility study for a Child and Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC) for Waterloo Region.
A CYAC is a collaborative best practice child-and-youth-friendly model for investigating allegations of child abuse and ensuring young people and their families are supported through the investigation and beyond.
The study was conducted through the Social Innovation Research Group (SIRG) at Wilfrid Laurier University with the participation of more than 20 service provider agencies who were involved with supporting children and youth who had experienced abuse.
At that time the federal government committed $5.25 million in funding from the Victims’ Justice Fund to create new Child Advocacy Centres and Child and Youth Advocacy Centres across Canada.
2015: Federal Funding is Committed for Waterloo Region Child and Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC) and Agency Launches Safe Hands-Strong Futures Community Fundraising Campaign
On July 28th, Stephen Woodworth, Member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre announced $350,000 (2015-17) in funding for the Child Witness Centre of Waterloo Region to support the establishment of a Child and Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC) in Waterloo Region. While the Child Witness Centre is the lead agency, this has been a collaborative effort for the past 2 years involving key community partners – Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS), Family and Children’s Services (FACS) of the Waterloo Region, Office of the Crown Attorney, the Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centre (SA/DVTC) through St. Mary’s Hospital and Lutherwood. The CYAC will be a child and youth-friendly hub where allegations of child abuse are investigated and children, youth affected by abuse, and their families, receive wraparound, trauma-informed support helping these brave young people have a voice and fostering healing, hope and wellbeing.
The Child Witness Centre’s role in the CYAC is to provide oversight of the Centre and implement the Child and Youth Advocate Program – filling a gap in the community. To support this expanded and enhanced work with young victims and witnesses, the annual budget of the Child Witness Centre more than doubled to an approximate $1.25 million annually. Our Safe Hands-Strong Futures Community Campaign launched in 2015 with a goal to raise $2 million from the community, provided additional foundational funding to launch and sustain our work for 4-5 years.
2016: Child Witness Centre Leads the Opening of the Waterloo Region Child and Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC)
On May 2, 2016, together with our core partners, Waterloo Regional Police and Family and Children’s Services we opened the Waterloo Region Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, initially working at Waterloo Regional Police North Division.
Specially-trained, dedicated Police, Family & Children’s Services investigators and the Child Witness Centre Child and Youth Advocates began to deliver the services of the CYAC, The service delivery model was implemented at this time because there was momentum and a strong need to begin to deliver the services for these young people and their families as soon as possible. In December 2016, we moved the co-located multidisciplinary team to newly renovated, leased child and youth friendly space at 400 Queen St. S (Carizon Family and Community Services).
Our role in the CYAC is to provide oversight of the Centre and implement the new Child and Youth Advocate Program, providing support through the investigation and connecting young people and their families to services in the community to help them begin to heal.
2019: Child Witness Centre exceeds Safe Hands-Strong Futures campaign goal, Child Abuse Investigations through the CYAC exceed 1500 since opening
On March 5th 2019, we announced the wrap up of our Safe Hands-Strong Futures community campaign with $2,043,119 donated or pledged to support our work with young victims and witnesses.
As of March 31st 2019, the CYAC had been involved in more than 1500 investigations involving at least 2300 young people and their families since opening on May 2 2019. In addition, we have experienced unprecedented growth in demand for support services through the criminal court process by young victims and witnesses. Demand for these services have more than doubled in the past four years.