The future site of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (CACAC) on the Red Deer College campus was announced on Friday.
“Not only do we get to help children and families heal, we also get to educate our (students) going through the Red Deer College on this very terrible subject,” said Terry Loewen, board chair with the CACAC. “Having us located right here where the College can integrate courses and knowledge to those going through the system means we can start on the prevention part of what we do.
“We work really hard on the ‘healing’ part but we have to get the prevention part going because that will stave off a lot of the future abuse that would go on.”
Loewen emphasized how critical the need is for the Centre, with the rates of abuse within the province at staggering proportions. “At the Kennedy Centre they do about 1,500 cases a year down in Calgary. And they only do 10 per cent of southern Alberta. But we know that 85 per cent of child abuse cases do not get reported,” he said. “We need to work on the prevention side, and that’s where the leadership of Red Deer College has come in.
“It’s a very, very important issue for our society. And this is a huge step forward with everybody collaborating. We are collaborating and communicating which is the only way to do business,” he said.
Loewen said that meanwhile, the capital campaign is well underway with a total of about $8 million needed to be raised.
“We have got about a million in the bank from some of the events that we have already done,” he said.
Loewen said the CACAC is extremely pleased with the support from the Province and the ongoing partnership with RDC. “We can now proceed with our plans to make a comprehensive child advocacy centre a reality for Central Albertans.”
Loewen said he’d like to see construction start by next April.
The site approval, which includes a 50-year land lease to the CACAC, relates to a Memorandum of Understanding signed by RDC and the CACAC this past February.
The two organizations will now continue to plan for the building, which will be located on the southwest area of the campus.
“Government support of this important partnership is a major milestone in establishing a centre of excellence at RDC supporting child advocacy,” said Joel Ward, RDC president.
“Students at RDC will learn the latest and best practices in supporting children and families through practicums and internships,” he added. “Our new university will also benefit tremendously through partnerships like this, and it aligns with our vision to provide applied learning experiences,” he said.
“It’s not only great for the Child Advocacy Centre, but it’s also great for the institution that we are trying to build,” he said. “The new university will be the type of university that looks for partnerships like that which provide opportunities for our students. It makes a difference in our communities, and enables the partnerships that we have to continue to grow.
“We provide opportunities for our students to work in all kinds of fields, and this area is one that is unfortunately a growing need. This will do a lot to address families and children in distress in Central Alberta,” he said.
“We couldn’t be happier with this partnership.”
Barb Miller, MLA for Red Deer South, said the announcement is good news for the constituency, the students, the RDC community and for vital public services for people living in Central Alberta, “Especially when it comes to providing support for victims of child abuse.
“Through this agreement, the CACAC will construct a Centre of Excellence that will specialize in leading practices, training, research, community awareness and education in the area of child advocacy,” she said.
“I want to commend them for the excellent work that they do in the Central Alberta region – a job that is really tough to do, and for their efforts to expand victim support services and to help individuals impacted by child abuse.”