Centre for victims of child abuse gets funding

The federal government and major Toronto donors have announced about $800,000 in funding for a centre meant to help victims of child abuse in the GTA.

The federal government and major Toronto donors have announced about $800,000 in funding for a centre designed to help victims of child abuse in the GTA.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and two other donors announced the money Friday for the city's first Child and Youth Advocacy Centre.

The project is meant to bring all the resources available to child-abuse victims under one roof. It includes police, the Crown prosecutor's office, health officials, child welfare agencies and Boost, a Toronto-based child-abuse prevention agency.

In 2011, Children's Aid Society of Toronto investigated 12,000 reports of child abuse. One Toronto woman whose seven-year-old daughter was abused talked to CBC News about the difficult process following the revelation, including visiting the police, the hospital, the aid society and recounting the story many times.

Karyn Kennedy, executive director of child-abuse prevention agency Boost, says dealing with authorities after child abuse can be a harrowing experience. (CBC)

"Trust becomes an issue for some children after an event like that, so knowing and believing that they're advocating for you, I think will be a tremendous benefit," said the woman, whose identity is being protected by CBC News.

Karyn Kennedy, executive director of Boost, has 25 years of experience dealing with child-abuse victims. 

"The abuse itself is the worst part of the process for the child but the experience with the system can be almost as bad for some children," she said.

Dave Fleming, spokesman of the Children's Aid Society, said the process can be overwhelming. "Having the professionals under one roof really makes a difference in terms of our communication together and our coordination of our services." 

Aside from the federal government, donations came from the Rogers family of Rogers Communications and The Sheldon Inwentash and Lynn Factor Charitable Foundation.

The next hurdle is to find a home for the centre and the money to pay rent. The groups would like the Ontario government to contribute. 

The hope is the centre will open by early 2013.