March 1, 2021
As we continue to develop the region’s first Child & Youth Advocacy Centre, it is important that we create awareness and secure support from the communities the Centre will serve. To that end, we have developed specific campaigns and initiatives around public and government relations and general community awareness that we’d like to share with you here.
In early January, we reached out to news sources in York Region and are excited to share that YorkRegion.com ran two stories over the past two months and NewmarketToday.com also shared our story. Alison Peck, Cedar Centre’s Executive Director reinforced the importance of creating the CYAC in the following quote:
“It’s our responsibility as a community to come in and wrap our services and work together in a way that makes the most sense from a justice and a mental health and a health and welfare perspective for that child and their family,” said Cedar Centre executive director Alison Peck.
These articles were shared through Cedar Centre’s Facebook page along with our partners’ social pages driving a 23% increase in traffic to our website across January and February compared to the two months prior.
We have also prepared a series of social media posts that will help keep our followers and community informed of our progress, and aware of relevant statistics on child abuse in Canada.
As part of our government relations campaign, we created a pledge to engage provincial, regional, and municipal representatives, and representatives of the Chippewa First Nations of Georgina Island asking for their support. The pledge states:
I believe in the importance of protecting and helping all children and youth of York Region; in supporting families, parents, and caregivers to be their best; and in organizations and individuals working together toward a common goal of keeping our children and youth safe.
In the coming months, we will be reaching out to representatives across the Region to familiarize them with our regional initiative and invite them to sign the pledge.
We continue to focus on mapping out the ideal workflow with the Planning Committee. As a co-located model, there will be changes to the existing Child Abuse Systems Team protocol. Based on elements needed for a gold-standard CYAC, we are building out the following elements:
- Multidisciplinary Team (MDT)
- Forensic Interview
- Victim Support and Advocacy
- Medical Evaluation, Mental Health
- Child-Focused Setting
- Case Review
- Case Tracking
- Organizational Capacity
- Cultural Competency and Diversity
National CAC/CYAC conference highlights
The National CAC/CYAC network conference, “Adversity – A Stepping Stone to Success” was held virtually in early March. Attendees from coast to coast to coast were in attendance, including representatives from Cedar Centre. With over 40 CACs/CYACs in operation in Canada, open discussions about formalizing the Canadian National network were a focal point of the conference. Guest speakers Teresa Huizar (National Children’s Alliance) and Chris Newlin (National Children’s Advocacy Centre) inspired us with their wisdom about the CYAC model and their experiences with establishing a formal National Association in the USA. Chris described CYACs as “a revolutionary way to respond to child abuse”.
Both speakers spoke to the importance of:
- securing commitment from senior leadership teams across all partner organizations to endorse the CYAC as playing an indispensable role in the response to child abuse;
- educating policy makers about the model and its benefits to the children/youth it serves and to communities as a whole, and;
- establishing representatives within CYACs as experts that are called upon by policy makers at all levels of government for advice and guidance.
An immediate next step will be to establish a steering committee to begin the process of examining what a National Association could look like in Canada.