What is a Child and Youth Advocacy Centre?
A Child and Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC) provides coordinated services and support for children and youth who have experienced violence or abuse. A CYAC is designed to be a comfortable, private, child- and youth-friendly place where children, youth and their families can access the services they need, all in one place.
The main goal of a CYAC is to ensure that children and youth who are disclosing abuse are not further traumatized by the systems working to protect them. At a CYAC, professionals from the different agencies involved work together as part of a Multidisciplinary Team. A Child and Youth Advocate is available to help the family to understand and navigate the process. Support is provided from the time a family arrives at the CYAC until the case is resolved.
The professionals working as part of the Multidisciplinary Team often include, at minimum, representation from:
• Child Protection Services
• Law Enforcement
• Medical Services
• Mental Health
• Victim Services
The CYAC approach is standard throughout the United States, where there are currently over 1,100 such centres. Only a few CYACs currently exist in Canada, but more are being developed across the country.
To learn more about Child and Youth Advocacy Centres, visit http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org.