An Edmonton area centre that supports children who have been abused is receiving additional provincial government funding.
The Zebra Child Protection Centre, which helps support young survivors of sexual and physical child abuse, will receive a $1.2 million grant over three years.
The St. Albert RCMP said that they access the Zebra Centre when investigating cases of child abuse.
“Their environment is child friendly and their investigators are highly skilled and specialized in working with young people,” St. Albert RCMP media spokesperson Cpl. Kading said.
The funding will go towards establishing a trauma treatment service. One of the first steps will be hiring child and family psychologist Dr. Marcia Gordeyko of Alberta Health Services. More counselling staff will be hired once the service is underway to help parents and children access the services more quickly.
“The focus of our new Trauma Treatment Service will be to identify the impact of abuse and provide families with evidence-based treatment to help them cope with trauma they have experienced,” Gordeyko said.
Gordeyko said that the new trauma centre will help reduce the wait time from referrals.
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said that children and families are coming to the Zebra Centre when they are the most vulnerable and in the middle of “ extremely difficult, traumatic” situations.
“The pathway to getting connected with counselling, therapy and treatment, far too often, is difficult to manoeuvre. The increased support we’re announcing today will help children and families navigate the health care system,” Hoffman said.
In 2017 the Zebra Centre supported 1,609 children and youth and had 909 new referrals to the organization. The centre provides 24-hour crisis response, counselling and court support for children and family members impacted by abuse.
St. Albert children are included in the youth that receive help from the centre. Last May two parents were charged after their two school-aged children suffered sexual abuse.
The children were supported by the Zebra Centre after the Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit discovered that the children’s 35-year-old father sexually assaulted the two in their own home over the course of three years. The mother is charged with causing a youth to need intervention under the province’s Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act after it was alleged she knew about the abuse.
Both parents are still awaiting trial.