Young victims of abuse in the region will find their way through the channels of support with fewer strides now that a rural model has been accepted and supported by $350,000 from the Department of Justice (DoJ) Canada’s Victims Fund.
The funding will be used by the Kootenay Boundary Community Services (KBCS) Co-operative to implement a rural model of delivering services, traditionally available through a Child Advocacy Centre, in the communities of Trail, Castlegar, Nelson, Grand Forks and Nakusp. This project builds on a feasibility study undertaken by the organization in 2011 that found a need for improved services and a more coordinated response from professionals for young victims of abuse living in rural areas of the region.
“In urban centres everything can be localized in one building and you can have all of the services there, but here we have 30,000 square kilometres to cover with high mountain passes and it makes access quite difficult, especially in the winter,” explained Prudence-Elise Breton, co-operative executive coordinator.
This project brings together five multi-disciplinary teams from existing service providers in five areas of the West Kootenay/Boundary region (Nelson, Nakusp, Grand Forks, Trail and Castlegar) to respond to cases of child and youth abuse.
A regional coordinator, with help from a regional advisory committee (also, multi-disciplinary team from existing service providers from all over the region) will oversee the entire project that will be facilitated by local coordinators leading teams in their participating communities.
The regional coordinator, (the KBCS Co-op manages the project –finance, contracts, reports to DoJ), ensure activation of regional and local committees, liaise with community partners and lead agency (the Co-op), develop and distribute resources and coordinate regional training and the development of regional policies, procedures and protocols and work with an evaluation consultant to monitor project.
“Instead of a kid bouncing between the police, a social worker and say the hospital, the group will work together to look at the case and find a more integrated solution,” said Breton. “It’s to make sure that the children that have been victims of neglect, violence or abuse feel heard, supported, cared for and that they feel empowered and heal from their experience, instead of being re-traumatized in a bureaucracy (process).”
The co-operative is an organization directed by its members, community-based social service organizations, to provide resources and services to people in the region. Its mission is to work to strengthen its members (such as the Trail FAIR Society) and address issues of social well-being.
The Victims Fund provides support to projects and activities that encourage the development of new approaches, promote access to justice, improve the capacity of service providers, foster the establishment of referral networks, or increase awareness of services available to victims of crime and their families.