The Zebra Centre is dedicated to being a safe place where kids can tell. Here's how we support a child through the process of sharing their story.
Partner organizations represented at each morning’s multidisciplinary intake meeting.
Multidisciplinary Intake Meeting
Each morning, a team of law enforcement, specialized assessors, medical professionals and Zebra Centre staff gather to review the collaborative response to each unique case, building a plan and assigning work. Children arrive at the Zebra Centre by way of referral through the Edmonton Police Service, Edmonton Region Child and Family Services Crisis Unit, Internet Child Exploitation Unit and other policing agencies. From the moment a file is accepted at the Zebra Centre, the goal is to have the child brought to the Centre in seven days or less – often within hours in a crisis situation.
The First Visit
Upon arriving at the Zebra Child Protection Centre, a child will be welcomed in a warm and friendly setting filled with comfortable furniture, paintings and stuffed animals. Part of that experience is being introduced to one of our child advocates who may take them into one of six child-friendly spaces where they will stay until the interviewer arrives. In these rooms the child advocate gives their undivided attention to the child, sometimes offering healthy snacks, drinks and helping them to feel more comfortable before their interview.
Volunteer and staff child advocates who welcome and support children at the Zebra Centre.
Forensic interviews completed at the Zebra Centre in 2018.
The Forensic Inerview
This is where a child is given the chance to tell their story. Upon meeting the interviewer, the child is taken into a second room with comfortable furniture and soft colours. It’s in this room that the interviewer will have a recorded conversation with the child and give them the opportunity to tell their story. The interview is always recorded for several reasons, primarily because the recording eliminates the need for the child to tell their story multiple times. As our justice system has evolved considerably, these taped interviews can be used as evidence in legal proceedings or as a tool to help the child prepare for court.
When charges have been laid and the case proceeds in the judicial system, the child has the opportunity to come back to the Zebra Centre to prepare for their time in the courthouse. In court preparation, the child will meet with more child advocates and the case’s Crown Prosecutor to learn about the rules surrounding court and to dispel any fears the child might have towards the process.
Court preparations facilitated at the Zebra Centre in 2018.
Times our facility dogs, Wren and Fletcher met with children in 2018.
Very Important Paws Program
Sometimes, the best support comes on 4 paws. We have two facility dogs, Wren & Fletcher who provide comfort to children & youth at the Zebra Centre during their interview process as well as at court while they are testifying.
For a child whose only experience with a courtroom has been on television dramas, court can be a pretty intimidating place. Thankfully, we always ensure that they will be accompanied by someone every step of the way. Although not all Zebra Centre cases will reach the justice system, our Court Accompaniment Program ensures friendly faces are there to answer any questions and to accompany the child on the stand as they testify against the accused.
Children accompanied on the stand at the Edmonton Law Courts.
Trauma referrals made in 2018.
Our support doesn’t stop once a verdict is reached or even when a case is closed. Our Trauma Referral Program provides access to the services that help heal. Through our partnerships in the community, we can connect a child to a variety of mental health and trauma screening services that best suit their needs including art therapy, play therapy, counselling and more.