Twice a week, a team of law enforcement agents, specialized assessors, medical professionals, and CACAC staff gather to review the collaborative response to each unique case, building a plan and assigning work. Children arrive at the CACAC by way of referral through the RCMP and Central Region Children’s Services. From the time of acceptance at our offices, our goal is to bring an endangered child in to the CACAC in seven days or less – or in a crisis situation, within hours.
The First Visit
Upon arriving at the CACAC, each child is welcomed into a warm and friendly setting, filled with comfortable furniture, paintings, and stuffed animals. Here, they are introduced to one of our child advocates, who may take them into one of the child-friendly spaces where they will stay until the interviewer arrives. In these rooms, the child advocate gives their undivided attention to the child, sometimes offering healthy snacks and drinks, or anything else the child may need to feel more comfortable before the interview begins.
The Forensic Interview
Upon meeting the interviewer, the child is taken into a second room with comfortable furniture and soft colours. In this room, the interviewer will have a recorded conversation with the child and give them the opportunity to tell their story. The interview is always recorded – there are several reasons for this, but primarily, it eliminates the need for the child to tell their story multiple times. As our justice system has evolved considerably, these taped interviews can be used as evidence in legal proceedings, or as a tool to help the child prepare for court.
In the event that charges are laid and the case proceeds in the judicial system, the child has the opportunity to come back to the CACAC to prepare for their time in the courthouse. In court preparation, the child will meet with more child advocates and the case’s Crown Prosecutor to learn about the rules surrounding court, and to dispel any fears the child might have towards the process.
For a young child with no courtroom experience, or who has only seen dramatic re-enactments on television, court can be a very intimidating place. We understand this anxiety, and ensure that they will be accompanied by someone every step of the way. Although not all CACAC cases will reach the justice system, our Court Support Program ensures friendly faces are there to answer any questions, and to accompany the child on the stand as they testify against the accused.
A final verdict or a closed case doesn’t mean our support stops. The CACAC is proud to be in partnership with Alberta Health Services (AHS) to provide on-site trauma treatment service, and our psychologist and therapist provide crucial and timely mental health supports. The CACAC also provides external mental health resource connections for children and families.