BC’s Children Who Witness Abuse Programs not able to meet demand

For Immediate Release: Vancouver, BC 

Only 36% percent of children and youth from BC who attempted to get help from Children Who Witness Abuse (CWWA) programs for their exposure to violence against women were able to be offered a place in the program. This is just one of the alarming statistics released by the BC Society of Transition Houses (BCSTH), based on data collected from the 24 Hour Census of Children Who Witness Abuse (CWWA) Programs held on March 2nd, 2017. The census provides an unduplicated count of how many children and youth received much needed support and how many more were unable to get immediate help from BC’s CWWA programs. The census concluded that 334 women, youth and children received counselling services in just one day and 228 children and youth contacted CWWA programs but were unable to receive the support they needed on March 2nd.

According to the census, in just 24 hours, Children Who Witness Abuse Counsellors responded to 364 calls, emails and texts. Despite this, 925 children, youth and women were on a waitlist of a combined 75 CWWA programs across the province. Limited staffing hours, space and resources to support children through the complex effects of violence were identified as factors contributing to waits for service.

A Children Who Witness Abuse Counsellor says “This program is one of the chronically underfunded programs in the province. There has been no increase in hours for over a decade-yet the demand for service continues to climb. We are failing our children and their families in deep, lasting and profound ways.”

Joanne Baker, Executive Director of BCSTH, says that the 24 Hour Census shows that “Despite the rhetoric of a vision for a ‘Violence Free BC’ and investment in healthy communities for children and youth, this vital program remains shamefully under-resourced. This census is a powerful snapshot. It shows that CWWA Counsellors are reaching many who are impacted by violence but want to be able to do more. They live with the daily reality that the need and the demand is there.”

Children Who Witness Abuse is a free, confidential program across BC for children and youth aged 3 to 18 who have been exposed to violence in the home. CWWA programs use psycho-educational methods including individual and group counselling to help children and youth to: understand what violence against women is, that they are not alone, and that the violence is not their fault, They learn to identify support networks, develop a safety plan, coping skills, identify and healthily express their feelings and to recognize their strengths and increase their self-confidence.

Joanne Baker at 604-669-6943 #226 or for more information or to request an interview.
The BC Society of Transition Houses is a member-based, province wide umbrella organization that, through leadership, support and collaboration supports over 200 Transition, Second and Third Stage Housing programs, Safe Home programs, CWWA programs and other groups serving the needs of women, youth and children who experience violence.

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