The Rotary Club of Fonthill welcomed Lynn Jerchel, President of the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre Niagara this morning ...
 
Lynn is a firm believer in supporting victimized children through volunteering efforts. Lynn is retired from the provincial government of Alberta as Executive Director of the Early Childhood Development Branch. Lynn worked for the Alberta government for 24 years and has a background as a specialist in child care and working with children with special needs. This work included policy and program development for all legislation governing child care, supporting the service delivery of licensing, family day homes, child care subsidy and inclusive child care for children that have disabilities or special needs.
 
She also shared with the club some background and very informative information about the centre ...
 
The Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre Niagara is a “safe place to help, heal and end child abuse” for children and youth who have been physically abused, sexually abused, become the targets of internet luring or were witness to violence.  A friendly, caring team of professionals work together in a private, safe, child-friendly place. Children are able to provide information that aids in the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators. Follow-up counselling for children and non-offending family members is provided. Partners are Niagara Regional Police Service, Family and Children's Services Niagara, Family Counselling Centre Niagara and medical professionals. Kristen French CACN is the first dedicated facility of its kind in Canada and serves all of the twelve municipalities.

When a child arrives at the Centre, they are accompanied by non-offending family members or caregivers. They are able to provide the details of their abuse in a private, comfortable environment that respects their vulnerability and offers caring support. Interviews happen only when the child is ready. These interviews are videotaped and aid in the investigation.

Niagara's approach to child abuse investigation is recognized as an evidence based, best practice model. Niagara is an early adopter, a leader in Canada, providing the first dedicated, stand alone facility where multidisciplinary services are coordinated in the best interest of the child.

Child Advocacy Centres have a real impact that is measurable not just in terms of benefits to victims and their families, but also in dollars. Research by the National Children's Alliance in the United States confirms that an investigation into a child abuse case in a community with a CAC is 45% less expensive than in a community without one.