File photo by ADVOCATE staff The triage team, consisting of staff from RCMP, Alberta Health Services, Child and Family Services and others, meets regularly at Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre to discuss cases.

Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre busier than expected

Work continues towards building a bigger centre

Last week, Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre did 16 forensic interviews with children and youth — likely its busiest week yet.

The centre pulls together staff from agencies, like RCMP, family services, mental health, addictions programs, and the Crown prosecutor’s office, into one location to discuss cases to avoid duplication, service gaps, and reduce the number of times children have to be interviewed.

“It’s all about people learning about us. Our partner agencies are doing such a good job getting the word out about what they’re doing with us and what we’re doing, and making those connections to all of our outlying communities,” said CEO Mark Jones Wednesday.

“We really are making a difference and changing the way Central Alberta responds to child abuse.”

Since January, about 196 forensic interviews have been completed, and a little more than 220 cases reviewed at the centre that provides a faster, integrated way to help those affected by physical and sexual abuse.

“That’s what’s really going to get this thing going, when people recognize this integrated practice works and you can take cases that would take weeks and solve them in hours.”

The centre opened its temporary office in downtown Red Deer this past December, and it is working on a plan to build a larger, permanent site on land at Red Deer College.

Jones said they knew the service was needed, ‘“but we didn’t know we’d be this busy, this fast.

“That’s the reason why it’s even more important to build this new facility. We’re cramped and trying to make things happen and working in a confined area. There’s not a doubt in my mind that we’ll fill every foot of that new building.”

He said if everything goes as planned, the new facility will open in early 2020. Discussions about what the building needs and staffing have started.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled about how it’s going up to this point in time, and it really makes it exciting for what the future holds.”

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