Sexually assaulted children get new supports

The existing Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre will be working in partnership with those developing a new Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre.

The existing Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre will be working in partnership with those developing a new Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre.

The child advocacy centre being modeled after the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in Calgary wraps several resources like RCMP, family services, mental health, addictions programs and the Crown prosecutor’s office into one location to avoid duplication and gaps in service.

In June, the province announced $1.7 million in funding to support existing child advocacy centres in Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, as well as four emerging centres in Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Lloydminster and Red Deer.

Red Deer is getting a $150,000 grant to assess the needs of the region and develop an operational plan.

Patricia Arango, executive director of the sexual assault centre, said not only will her agency be working with the advocacy centre, it will be located in the same building, and they will both share in the funds to be raised by the Sheraton Celebrity Dance off 2017.

“We can do a lot of good things together and the community will have the best services,” Arango said on Friday.

“(The advocacy centre) is focused on all kinds of abuse for children under 18. We will be part of the programming all related to the sexual assault of children.”

Arango said her agency has 104 new and ongoing clients age 12 and under and 198 clients 17 and under, but staff will continue to help people of all ages.

Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre celebrated 30 years in May and expanded its services this year to include texting with clients. People can call or text its crisis line — 1-866-956-1099 — that operates 24 hours a day. Texting can be done by phone or on a computer by using the webchat program on the centre’s website at www.casasc.ca.

It has not yet been determined whether the new advocacy centre will be located in a renovated, existing space or if a new structure will be built.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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