A significant portion of the Canadian population has experienced abuse in their childhood, with some studies claiming the prevalence being as high as 32% of Canadians (Afifi et al, 2014). The effects of child abuse-‐related trauma can be physical and mental and can last well into adulthood. There are also significant fiscal costs associated with child abuse and resultant trauma.
The current policy response in Canada is the adoption of Child Advocacy Centres (also known as Child Protection Centres or Youth Advocacy Centres). The Child Advocacy Centre model is based on integration, as agencies occupy the same space and share expertise in order to provide victims with the best possible care and resources. The goal of these centres is to create a “one-‐stop-‐shop” of services for victims of abuse. Several cost-‐benefit analyses of the currently operating centres suggest that they are positive models for streamlining child abuse cases and also have a significant social return on investment.
The goal of this study is to illuminate barriers that inhibit integration between organizations within these centres. How and when organizations are permitted to share information are important aspects of such integration. This 6 study analyzed the legislative frameworks that guide these operations and provided recommendations as to how this legislative foundation can be improved. The study looked in more depth at 3 specific Child Advocacy Centres (CACs), their levels of integration, their rules surrounding information-‐sharing and any barriers beyond legislation that they may encounter.
Through the comparative analysis, it was evident that legislation can be a major barrier to integration in CACs. Two recommendations are suggested; First, to create national standards for accrediting CACs in Canada and second, for provinces to provide a legislative foundation that predicates sharing information between experts on the basis of providing the best service provision to victims and not based on the victim's interaction with the justice system.