safe exit

Child & Youth Advocacy Centre

What is a CYAC?


The first CYAC in North America was established in Huntsville, Alabama in 1985. It was conceived by District Attorney Robert E. Cramer who felt the criminal justice and social service systems were not working together effectively, adding to children’s emotional distress. Since then, over 900 CYACs are currently operating in the United States, with over 30 CYACs now operating in Canada as of October 2020.

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CYACs in Canada

A snapshot of the locations and current stages of development of specialized services for child and youth victims of crime.


map of CYACs in Canada

Purpose of CYACs

A CYAC ensures that children and youth who are victims of abuse, and their families receive the very best child-focused investigation, treatment, support services, and advocacy in a fully co-ordinated way. They attempt to limit the impacts these systems have on these vulnerable children and youth, ensuring they are informed, supported and included in the process. Feeling supported is critical to help children and youth navigate life. The Child Witness Centre in Ontario states that children and youth who are unsupported are:


Less likely to graduate from high school


more likely to experience homelessness


more likely to perpetrate dating violence (for boys who are abused by a family member)

CYACs can help children and youth who have experienced violence/abuse heal so the effects of their experiences don’t have to define their futures.

CYAC Model

There are several key components that make up child and youth advocacy centres. In Canada, the following components are viewed as the gold standard for a model:

Multidisciplinary Team (MDT)

Team (MDT)

Forensic Interview


Victim Support and Advocacy

Victim Support
and Advocacy

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Medical Evaluation,
Mental Health

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Case Review

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Case Tracking

organizational capacity


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Cultural Competency
and Diversity

CYAC Outcomes

CYACs are having a positive impact on the individuals and communities they serve. Most studies published are based on US data. Where available, Canadian stats are included.


There is a strong correlation between the use of CYACs and higher substantiation rates in the USA (Brink, 2015; Elmquist et al., 2015; Wolfteich & Loggins, 2007)


The process from start to finish is shorter. This is better for victims and their families, and for our justice system


In the USA, the combined cost of investigation and prosecution was found to be 41% to 57% lower than with traditional models (Formby et al., 2006)


Children and youth served by CYACs were less negatively impacted by the trauma at a three-month follow up (Herbert & Broomfield, 2016)


Those served by a CYAC in Canada and the USA had greater access to mental health and medical services (Cross et al., 2008; Dubov & Goodman, 2017; Jackson, 2004; Smith et al., 2006)

CYACs are having a positive impact on the children and youth they serve, contributing to increased substantiation rates and lowering the combined cost of investigation and prosecution.

How Can I Help?

As we continue to work with our partners to develop the region’s first CYAC, we ask that you help us spread the word. Stay informed by checking back here regularly and donate when you can to help us create a place where children/youth and their families can begin to heal from the trauma.

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Support Cedar Centre by donating today.

Our Funder

This project would not be possible without the generous support of our funder.