Sylvan Lake Town Council met for its regular meeting Monday evening, where they heard more information on the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre.
Mark Jones, C.E.O. of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, spoke to Town Council about the centre’s importance and it far reaching effects.
According to Jones, the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre isn’t for the use of only those in Red Deer, where it is located. Those who work at the centre help children from the Saskatchewan border to Rocky Mountain House and from Drayton Valley down to Didsbury.
“People don’t understand when we say we are a Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre. They think that because we are housed in Red Deer it is really only for Red Deer, but it isn’t. It truly is for Central Alberta,” Jones said.
Jones says the centre’s mandate is to protect children and partners with every ministerial agency who follows the same mandate.
The centre works with the Central Region Children’s Services, Alberta Health Services Addiction and Mental Health, Alberta Justice, Alberta Education, the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre and the RCMP.
“These groups work in child abuse, but they have been working by themselves,” said Jones. “So, what we have done is bring all of those agencies into one building, into one room, to share their information.”
According to Jones, having these agencies all working together helps to solve problem and help the child in question within minutes, in some cases.
He gave the example of a young girl who disclosed she was being abused. That same day, the Centre began working with the family. An arrest was made later that same day, and the girl was able to see a mental health therapist the next day, as was the family.
“In our first year we helped 441 children… Of those 441children that we worked with 24 came from Sylvan Lake,” Jones said.
There is zero cost for someone to seek help from the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre. This is because the ministerial agencies partnered with the Centre are responsible to provide “these necessities” to children.
The centre is an intervention piece, meaning the children who come to the centre are there because something has already happened.
Jones said he is working with Alberta Health to have the mental health and addictions for children and families program moved to be housed within the centre, along with the sexual abuse support centre.
“…We are saving lives, and giving kids the opportunity to do what they are supposed to do.”