More than twice a day a young person in Waterloo Region finds the courage to tell someone that they have experienced abuse and every day children, youth and their families are supported through an investigation and beyond, ensuring they are heard, helped and can begin to heal.
…being a young person who has experienced abuse or violence or abuse.
…trying help your child or youth cope with their feelings while you are coping with your own.
…the deep and lasting impact this could have on a young person and their family if they weren’t supported through the process.
…how helpful it would be to have someone walk with you through the process.
Research indicates that when a child or youth is unsupported they are:
- 30% less likely to graduate from high school
- 26x more likely to experience homelessness
- Boys who are abused by a family member and are unsupported become 45x more likely to perpetrate dating violence
In the CYAC, the Child and Youth Advocates support children, youth under the age of 18 in Waterloo Region and their families through the investigations of abuse and violence and beyond, regardless of whether charges are laid. The Advocate’s role is to provide child and youth-focused, trauma-informed support creating a child and youth-friendly experience while ensuring wraparound services are available to meet the unique needs of the child, youth and family.
They provide young people and their families with information about the investigative process, support their emotional needs with coping tools and strategies, and assess their needs for ongoing and additional support. Their support once the investigation has been completed, helps young people and their families navigate and connect with the services in our community that will best meet their needs.
“Advocates play a valuable role in the CYAC. They have the opportunity to greet children, youth and their caregivers warmly during one of the biggest crisis of their lives and they remain involved once the investigation is complete to ensure that children and youth receive the help they need to begin to heal.” -Karen Spencer, Executive Director, Family and Children’s Services Waterloo Region
Our services seek to minimize the negative impact of and potential re-victimization by the judicial process on young victims and witnesses by ensuring they are informed, supported and included in the process. This improves their social-emotional functioning and overall mental health, while positioning these young people to experience a more successful transition to adulthood.
“I feel like what I do impacts the families on many levels. I’ve seen the look of relief on parents’ faces when they learn there is someone else there to help them support their children when they may be emotionally struggling. When they need to leave their children alone to speak with WRPS and FACS, they are relieved someone is there to assist with their children. One of the biggest impacts I have experienced within the role is the support we can offer to youth who are feeling alone and struggling with what happened to them. A lot of the time they don’t need anything concrete from us, they just like that someone is checking in on them — someone who knows what they have experienced and isn’t going to judge them in any way.” -Rebecca Heibein-Kursikowski Child and Youth Advocate
Since opening in May 2016, Child and Youth Advocates have walked with more than 1000 young people and their families through an investigation of abuse or violence. Our services are accessible and provided free of charge.
To learn more about the Child and Youth Advocate role in the Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, watch the video below.
At the Child and Youth Advocacy Centre we are….
Working Together… Hearing, Helping, Healing.
If you need help or are concerned about a child, please call:
- Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region at 519-576-0540
- Family and Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County at 519-824-2410