Child Witness Centre gets more Ontario funding to help children navigate criminal justice process

The Child Witness Centre in Kitchener, Ont., will get additional provincial funding this year to help more young people navigate the criminal justice process as the centre sees record high number of children on a waitlist.Kitchener South-Hespeler MPP Jess Dixon pushed to secure more funding going the centre. The centre will see an additional $35,000 each year for a total of $200,000 annually.”From being a Crown attorney in this area, I had worked with them in my capacity as a Crown and was aware of what an incredible service it was, and it wasn’t until after leaving the Crown and becoming a politician that I realized that they weren’t a government organization and fully funded,” Dixon told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo’s The Morning Edition on Monday.Dixon said she had been working to get the centre more funding since she was elected and was happy to see Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy add the funds in the budget.The Child Witness Centre has a current waitlist of 122 children and the extra funding will help the organization serve an additional 35 children every year. “Those are children that we are not meeting all of their needs and all of their milestones throughout the process,” Robin Heald, executive director of the centre told, CBC News. Jess Dixon, Progressive Conservative MPP for Kitchener South-Hespeler, spoke toCBC Kitchener-Waterloo’s The Morning Edition on Monday about the recent funding announcement for the centre. (Carmen Groleau/CBC)Heald said for children and youth to navigate the system alone can often be a traumatic experience and the extra funds mean their needs and milestones will be met. She said it costs the centre $1,000 to support a child.”Having those supports for all of those children means a huge difference in their outcome.”Through their program, children receive supports during the investigation stage as well as supports for court updates, court preparation, testimonial and during the sentencing stage.Dixon said she will continue her advocacy to get more funds allocated to the centre. “A $6.4-million pot has been allocated for child witness programs and for victims of sexual assault. I’m not sure how that will be [divided] and that’s where my advocacy will come in,” she said, adding she’s confident the government will allocate more funds to the centre. 

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