A playroom set up in the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre to help kids feel more comfortable and help with play therapy. The CACAC office is set up to make children in the centre feel relaxed right down to a homemade quilt for every child to take home. Photo by Kaylyn Whibbs/Sylvan Lake News

Child advocacy centre raising funds through Dream Home Lottery

The child advocacy centre in Red Deer uses its resources to help kids all over Central Alberta

The Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (CACAC) is hosting its first ever Dream Home Lottery.

Tickets start at $35 and could result in a new home, a car, jewellery, gas for a year and more making up over $1.8 million in prizes.

“Its like any other business that you have, you’re kind of the new kid on the block and you have to get the word out and create awareness,” said CACAC CEO Mark Jones, adding the lottery is also allowing them to create awareness for themselves in Central Alberta.

“We’re there and we work with every small [or] large centre, doesn’t matter, town, village [or] city in Central Alberta,” said Jones, explaining their draw zone is huge and includes Sylvan Lake and Eckville.

Jones says the CACAC has dealt with a large number of Sylvan Lake cases during their first year of operation.

In total, the centre had looked at over 430 cases in its first year, and the number will continue to grow as people learn about the centre.

CACAC uses an integrated approach to solve child abuse cases to be more efficient and effective when doing an investigation.

Starting from the beginning with disclosure right to the end when mental health therapy or preparing kids for court comes into play CACAC’s partner agencies work as a team.

“They work together in an integrated practice in our building together and come up with a complex care plan for every child, every individual case [and for] not only the child, but their family as well,” said Jones, adding the best way to support abuse victims is to support them and get them help.

CACAC works in partnership with the RCMP, Alberta Health Services, Central Region Children’s Services, Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre, Alberta Justice, Alberta Education and Red Deer College.

The CACAC investigates every case to come across their desks and work with all types of abuse or maltreatment, including sexual, physical, neglect, mental health, sexual exploitation, medical child abuse, witness to domestic violence or sexualized behaviour.

“For us, the issue that is most reason for referral [to CACAC based on statistics] is sexual abuse and then comes physical and then there’s other,” said Alyssa Truant, marketing and community awareness coordinator for CACAC, adding their mandate is kids zero to 18, but they would never turn anyone away.

Truant explained all of the calls are screened through Children’s Services and appropriate referrals are then made.

Between CACAC and its partners, it is then decided which cases get triaged at the centre to best coordinate services for the children and their families.

When kids walk into CACAC it is tailored for them, a playroom filled with toys, a kitchen filled with snacks and a handmade quilt for every child to take home.

The kitchen is stocked by Save-On-Foods and homemade cookies are donated by the Ward Family.

The CACAC has been built on government grants and community support through donations and fundraisers.

“The Dream Home Lottery is for us to move our child advocacy centre to the next level, to be able to bring in research and best practices and get connected with the college in a prevention process,” said Jones, explaining every dollar of the lottery goes to helping kids.

“It allows us to start to build a sustainability by having the financial means to be able to continue to run that place, a child advocacy centre, to show sustainability, that it’s not just there and gone,” said Jones.

Jones explained the centre is looking long-term with the hopes of being around forever.

“What we do at the child advocacy centre is intervention [and] what we’ll do with the college is put some prevention places in,” added Jones, “so what the Dream Home allows us is to have the funding to be able to put programming in and create opportunities for people in the future who are going to be working with children.”

CACAC is in the process of building a new office on Red Deer College land next to the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre with the hopes of breaking ground in the spring or summer.

The building will be split between CACAC, Alberta Health Services and the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre.

“I would really like people to know we are representing all of Central Alberta, every child in Central Alberta, that’s why it’s important that we’re trying to do all of these things to get a centre going by doing the Dream Home and other fundraisers we’ve had up to this point in time,” said Jones, adding the easiest way anybody in Central Alberta who wants to help support the CACAC is buying a Dream Home Lottery ticket.

Tickets start at $35 each or can be purchased in packages of three for $75, eight for $150 or 15 for $250.

Split 50 (or 50/50) tickets are also available for as little as $10 each.

Lottery tickets can be purchased through the CACAC Dream Home Lottery website: cacaclottery.ca.

Tickets can also be purchased by phone at 833-475-4402 or in-person at the Dream Home located at 57 Larratt Close.

Deadline for tickets is 11 p.m. on March 10 and the draw will be held on March 27.

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