MEMORANDUM SIGNED - Mark Jones, CEO of Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, Morris Flewwelling RDC board chair, Joel Ward, RDC president and Terry Loewen, CACAC Board Co-chair. Michelle Falk/Red Deer Express

Red Deer College and Child Advocacy Centre announce partnership

RDC to be the future home of Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre

Red Deer College will be the home of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (CACAC).

RDC President and CEO Joel Ward announced Feb. 8th that they intend to contribute land for CACAC to build a permanent site and that the College plans to further incorporate practicums at the Centre into its programming.

“We believe in an integrated practice here at the College, so this really aligns with our model,” said Ward.

He added that the opportunity for students to have hands-on experience at the Centre would really add to the value of the courses they offered.

The ambition of the Child Advocacy Founder Sheldon Kennedy is that CACAC and RDC become the place in North America that practitioners come to be trained and learn about the integrated-practice approach.

“I think by training people properly and giving them the chance to work in the Centre we have the opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said CEO of the Child Advocacy Centre Mark Jones, referring to the costs of reactive approaches to trauma-induced mental health and addiction.

The Centre already has students, mainly from the social work program at the College, involved in practicum placements.

RDC plans to expand applied learning at CACAC to all of their programs in conjunction with their applied learning model.

“We’re not an ivory tower,” Ward said. “We’re all about providing opportunities for students to connect and to have practicum and applied learning experiences in the real world.

“Text book is one thing, but being out in a child advocacy centre and seeing what’s happening to children and families, that’s an education you can’t teach in a classroom.”

Ward and the RDC board hope this partnership will raise the profile of the College.

They have selected a private, comfortable spot on campus for the Centre close to the environmental area and the environmental pond to the south of the new Gary W. Harris Centre.

The Centre will be state-of-the-art and is estimated to cost about $8 million.

Ward added that the land will be leased to the Centre at no cost for as long as they need it.

The Child Advocacy Centre has been open in downtown Red Deer for five weeks. Since opening, it has triaged 40 cases, conducting forensic interviews in all of them.

Currently they are only working in Red Deer and area.

“We’ve already outgrown the space, especially once we open it up to the rest of central Alberta,” Jones said.

The temporary facility was intended to be sufficient for two years.

Fundraising campaigns for the new facility on the College site will begin March 1st.

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