Child Witness Centre's main office in Kitchener

Through its staff, programs and services, the Child Witness Centre offers impartial support to all children in Waterloo Region and Wellington County who have been victims or witnesses of crimes. Our services are based on the belief that most children are simply too vulnerable and unaware to cope with the complexities of the criminal justice system. The agency plays an integral role in balancing the needs of that justice system with the child’s right not to be subjected to further emotional trauma. The Child Witness Centre believes every child who has been the victim or witness of a crime has the right to be supported through, and prepared for, any legal proceedings in which they are required to participate.

Child victims and witnesses are referred to the program after a criminal charge is laid. Support services are provided free of charge and include:

Offering support and assistance through each stage of the court process

Providing the child and family with updates on the case

Educating the child about the judicial system

Arranging and attending meetings for the child with the Crown attorney

Meeting with the child for court preparation -- helping them cope with fears and concerns; familiarization with court procedures, oath taking and legal terminology; facilitating conditions necessary for a full and candid account of the evidence

Accompanying the child to court

Explaining the verdict

Assisting in writing the victim impact statement, if required

The Child Witness Program serves all residents of Waterloo Region and Wellington County, whether they are required to testify in this jurisdiction or another. All attempts are made to ensure that any child testifying in this region, regardless of where the crime took place, will receive support services. Individuals required to testify outside of this region receive court preparation services from our program, and contact is made with court support agencies in the appropriate jurisdiction.

Referrals are made to other agencies when appropriate.

Our services are available at no charge.

I couldn't imagine going to court without the Child Witness Program. The staff made me feel welcome, and supported me when I was nervous. I didn't expect they would come to court with me. I survived, because I knew that they were always there for me anytime. You can tell they love their jobs, because they give a lot of themselves. Six years later they are still there for me when I need them.

A client

Our three young children were sexually assaulted by their babysitter in their own home. Their safe and secure world suddenly became a very scary place. The agency made it possible for our children to feel safe and comfortable while being interviewed by police and being prepared for court. They gave our family the support we needed to deal with this devastation and have helped us put our lives back on track.

A parent of clients

The children of this community who are already traumatized by crime have a chance for some positive support and preparation for court that would not be otherwise available. This has assisted the Crown's Office in more
effectively prosecuting crimes that involve these children.

Crown Attorney,
Regional Municipality of Waterloo