Centre to aid child abuse victims opens at St. Clair College

A new centre for child abuse victims gives them a chance to be heard in a single place, instead of requiring them to travel across the community to multiple locations.

Previously, victims would have to travel to multiple locations across the city to talk to authorities

The Windsor Essex Child/Youth Advocacy Centre offers a place where child abuse victims can tell their stories to authorities all at once. (Dale Molnar CBC News)

A new centre to help children who have been abused has opened at the Anthony P. Toldo Centre for Health Sciences at St. Clair College.

The Windsor Essex Child/Youth Advocacy Centre has been set up for victims to give statements to police and children's aid workers in "a single location."

"Previously, before we developed this WECYAC model in the Windsor-Essex community, children who had experienced abuse had to travel all around the community, talking to multiple different individuals, disclosing their abuse and ultimately re-victimizing themselves and re-traumatizing themselves," said executive director Michelle Oake.

Oake said if a teacher or someone else suspects child abuse, they can report it to the Children's Aid Society (CAS). Then advocacy workers at WECYAC will coordinate a time when police, CAS social workers and the alleged victim meet at the centre for an interview.

Michelle Oake, executive director of the Windsor Essex Child/Youth Advocacy Centre, says victims telling their stories multiple times can re-traumatize them. (Dale Molnar CBC News)

Members of several local police agencies are partnered with the centre, which has been operating a pilot project out of Windsor Regional Hospital for a year.

According to Windsor police, about 700 cases of physical and sexual abuse are reported annually in Windsor-Essex.

Police are hoping this centre will encourage more children to come forward and result in more convictions.

"My job and our job as police officers is to reduce our reliance on this centre to be quite frank. We want to eliminate child abuse and this is going to go a long way in that direction," said police chief Al Frederick.

It costs $275,000 per year to run the centre, which the Department of Justice Canada partially funds. Other funding comes from community partners.

WECYAC has just received charitable status so it can receive donations. There are 40 centres like this one operating, or in development, across Canada.

About the Author

Dale Molnar

Video Journalist

Dale Molnar is an award-winning video journalist at CBC Windsor. He is a graduate of the University of Windsor and has worked in television, radio and print.