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May 20, 2004
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New approach to child protection

Dr. Ken Barter
Dr. Ken Barter is leading a project to help families at risk.
By Sharon Gray
An innovative outreach program to families and children at risk will be tested in St. John’s over the next three years. Dr. Ken Barter, Social Work, in co-operation with five community agencies, will lead the project, which has received nearly $249,000 from the National Crime Prevention Centre.

Dr. Barter, former chair of child protection, is enthusiastic about the project.

“It will take a different approach to carrying out the mandate of the Child Youth and Family Services Act. We will do the outreach to families using a capacity building approach and with the aid of a community facilitator we will work with these families to link them to available resources.”

The community agencies involved in the project with Dr. Barter are the Daybreak Child Care Centre, the Avalon East School Board, Health and Community Services (St. John’s region), the Janeway Family Centre and Brighter Futures Coalition (St. John’s region). The steering committee is in the process of hiring a community facilitator to implement the project’s goals.

Within a defined geographical area, the community capacity building project will work with families to assist them in developing relationships within their own communities.

“We want these families to take advantage of programs and resources in the community, to participate in community activities as a parent or a family, and to develop networks and support whereby they can get a better sense of hope, of turning their lives around.”

Dr. Barter said the project is ambitious, but he believes it will work. “These families struggle with issues such as housing, transportation and personal problems – we will engage with them at different levels.”

Ultimately the project will produce a self-sustaining system of support networks.

“Right now community agencies do not have the resources to try a new approach. This project is an opportunity for these agencies to have a resource to do what they’ve always wanted to do.”

Dr. Barter said he has been interested in implementing a community capacity building model for some time, but was unsuccessful in finding funding through traditional child protection agencies. He applauds the National Crime Prevention Centre, which now comes under the new Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, for recognizing prevention and early intervention as part of its mandate.

Dr. Barter is also completing a three year study on delivering child abuse prevention programs. He said the project has worked out “phenomenally well” and was recently approved for an extra $40,000 in funding from RespectED: Violence and Abuse Prevention programs, to complete an evaluation of feedback from youth who participated in the study.

 


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Next issue: June 10, 2004

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