The Toba Centre's annual funding was more than doubled by the province as part of the newly-minted Stop Child Child Exploitation Awareness Week.
Still in their younger years themself, the centre has been helping 10 per cent of the approximately 4,000 children affected by violence each year that were reported to the police. They only work from police referrals.
"We provide a safe space for kids to come and be interviewed about concerns about possible child abuse or if they had been witness to violence," Karen Chymy, the Director of Operations, says. "It is a very serious, maybe the most serious issue."
The children experience a range of violent situations, including exploitation. Toba Centre interviews them and helps connect families with community supports. The centre's case managers and navigators work with community organizations and provincial services to find children support after interviews.
"It impacts the child, it impacts the family, and it impacts their entire community. No one is expecting this to happen when they are going through this process."
She says they provide support to families to understand how abuse happens and how they can support their children. Chymy says understanding the dynamics and how abuse happens is discussed, as well as connecting people with the resources they need to heal.
They are "really building that community around families and children that showing them that they are not alone in this process is very important."
Chymy says the province's newly-announced $424,000 annual funding will help them work with even more children, including moving to a new location.
"A child advocacy centre ideally would have a co-location with the various partners, it could be police, it could involve child welfare, medical services victim services, all in one space."
The new spot could combine them, bringing the services to one location for the families.
The new funding is part of the province's Stop Child Child Exploitation Awareness Week initiatives. Announced on Tuesday, the province is dedicating March 7-13 to the cause.
“The safety and security of children is a priority for our government, and we are committed to enhancing supports to ensure the best possible outcomes for vulnerable youth, including those at risk of sexual exploitation,” Families Minister Rochelle Squires says.
Creating new initiatives like training for hotel staff and improving abuse training, Squires is hopeful the $900,000 of funds to various organizations will keep children safe from exploitation.