New community hub to ease trauma of abuse for children and youth
Creating a safe space for children and youth who have been abused, where they only have to tell their story once, is the goal behind a new partnership in London and the upcoming opening of the Beacon House Child and Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC).
St. Joseph’s is a proud partner in the initiative, along with London Family Court Clinic (LFCC), London Police Service (LPS) and Children’s Aid Society London and Middlesex. Together, the agencies have developed Beacon House, which will be a hub for community collaboration to help guide children and youth through the police investigation and preparation for court testimony in cases of abuse.
A CYAC provides a coordinated approach to addressing the needs of child and youth victims and/or witnesses of abuse involved in the criminal justice system and child protection. It brings together a multidisciplinary team of police, child and youth protection, medical services, mental health services, victim services, and prosecutors in a child-friendly environment under one roof. The purpose is to provide a responsive, seamless way for children and youth to disclose abuse, receive support, and ensure they are not further traumatized by the system working to protect them. There are currently about 30 CYACs across Canada.
St. Joseph’s Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program (RSADVTP) will provide outreach to the Beacon House CYAC for any paediatric evidence collection and other medical supports needed for the treatment of a sexual assault, explains Cassandra Fisher, Coordinator of the RSADVTP.
“This outreach will allow children to be treated and cared for in a setting that is built with a trauma-informed lens specifically for children,” says Cassie.
A proposal to bring a CYAC to London Middlesex was jointly submitted by the partner organizations and funding was approved by the Victims Fund of the Department of Justice Canada.
LFCC is lead organization for the program, which will be housed within the LFCC building at 200 – 254 Pall Mall St. It is slated to open in December.