Why Do We Exist?
In Waterloo Region, MORE THAN TWICE A DAY a young person finds the courage to tell someone about the abuse they have experienced.
Further to this, local police press an average of 11 charges PER WEEK for crimes directly harming a child or youth. Year over year, the demand in the community for our services continues to increase. Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen this trend continue. In 2021-22, we anticipate once again helping over 1,500 young people across the Waterloo Region, Guelph, and Wellington County.
We deliver a vital service to victimized children, youth, and their families. If we did not exist, no one would be there to help them navigate the criminal justice system, a system that is often complex, adversarial, and not set up to meet the needs of young victims and witnesses.
The Support Journey
For those young people who find the courage to disclose their abuse, our support begins at the start of an investigation through the Waterloo Region Child and Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC) where young victims, and their families are supported by our Advocates in our Child and Youth Advocate Program (CYAP) and connected to much-needed resources, helping them begin to heal. When charges are laid, children and their families are referred on to our Child Witness Program (CWP), where our Caseworkers will take the lead in supporting our clients through the criminal court process. The opening of the CYAC in 2016 has completely transformed how allegations of abuse are investigated and how we support children who disclose abuse, and their families. It has allowed us to extend a seamless transition from the initial investigation of abuse right through to the end of the criminal justice process, providing them with personalized care from start to finish.
Our Impact: Immediate and Lifelong
Walking side-by-side with young people and their families through the often-overwhelming investigation and court processes, our specially trained teams are a consistent source of comfort, support, and information. During this challenging time in their lives, keeping our clients informed, supported, and included leads to our desired outcomes of reduced social isolation and improvements in their overall mental health and wellbeing. By providing children and youth with the support and resources necessary to begin healing from their traumatic experiences, we also lay the foundation for stronger futures.
Statistics suggest: that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will experience an unwanted sexual act before they are 18. Research demonstrates that early support for young victims and witnesses has a positive impact on their healthy development, positioning them for better success in adulthood.
With early intervention and support for young victims and witnesses through services such as those offered by the Child Witness Centre, the demand for downstream services related to family violence, mental health and addiction, and homelessness can be significantly reduced. By supporting young people during their time of need, we can ultimately help build a safer, stronger community!