Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre had its second busiest year in 2021-22 in terms of services provided.
Dylan Rambow, communications co-ordinator for the centre, said services during that year made up almost one-third of all the services the centre has delivered since it first opened.
During the 2021-22 fiscal year, the non-profit organization provided support to 1,048 children and youth and families impacted by child abuse, up from 458 in 2020-21 and 438 in 2019-20.
Rambow didn’t want to speculate on the reason for the increase.
“What I can say is that we have to keep in mind the COVID-19 pandemic may have had something to do with how many reports we would have received,” Rambow said.
Sixty-eight per cent of the files dealt with sexual abuse, up from 38 per cent in 2020-21.
The centre has been operating since late 2017 in a temporary location and the organization spearheaded the construction of a $22.4-million facility that will bring professionals with experience in abuse, addictions and mental health together in one building.
The 66,566 square-foot Centre of Excellence will serve as the home of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre, Alberta Health Services: Red Deer Child and Youth Addiction and Mental Health Outpatient Clinic, and the Step Up Step Down youth live-in addiction and mental health program.
Having several resources in one location prevents victims from having to undergo multiple interviews and reliving trauma, as well as eliminating duplication and gaps in service.
Construction is expected to be complete by the end of August. Elevator installation is currently underway, along with dry walling and electrical work preparation on the first and second floors.
Rambow said moving into the new centre will fully integrate a multi-disciplinary team and increase Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre’s ability to assist children and youth.
“This is a one-of-a-kind structure. It’s a one-of-a-kind system that hasn’t been done in North America before. It is an evidence-based model and this is our way to make one of the biggest stands against child abuse that we can make.”