Boost Child Abuse Prevention & Intervention has created an award to recognize individuals and groups who have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to creating pathways to better service for children, youth and families in the city.
Chief Bill Blair was the recipient of the inaugural Champion for Children Award presented at the organization’s annual general meeting on June 2 at KPMG’s office in downtown Toronto.
Boost executive director Karyn Kennedy and outgoing chair Mike Ruthard made the presentation to Blair.
“We selected the Chief as the first recipient as he has been a longstanding champion of the protection of children,” she said.
“He supported the development of the Child & Youth Advocacy Centre at Boost from the onset and had the insight to recognize that the police service could be restructured to assign specialised officers to the centre.
“The Chief is a champion for children in the city. He recognized we needed to find a better way to respond to children who were abused and he implemented changes in the Service to create a team of skilled police investigators at the Child & Youth Advocacy Centre. The centre would not have been possible without his support.”
With the creation of the agency, abused children no longer have to travel around the city to get the help and services they require. With the police, the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, the Safe-T Program, the Suspected Child Abuse & Neglect Program and Boost Child Abuse Prevention & Intervention agency in the same building, abused youths can get the assistance they need from social services and police.
In the three months since the city’s first Child Youth & Advocacy Centre opened last October, Toronto Police investigated 291 occurrences -- about 185 are physical and nearly 70 are sexual abuse allegations -- and laid 40 charges against repeat offenders.
They also interviewed 420 victims and witnesses in the two DVD interview rooms at the facility at 890 Yonge St.
Officers work 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday. Two officers are on call from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. and on weekends.
Police investigate physical assaults, emotional abuse or neglect occurrences when the victim is under 16 and the suspect is a caregiver, parent or person in a position of trust or authority, or when the suspect is known and the offences are not within the mandate of the Sex Crimes Unit investigative office; and occurrences entitled “Child in Need of Protection” or “Child Left Unattended.”
Blair graciously accepted the award on behalf of the Service.
“I am very honoured to be the recipient of this award,” he said.
“This is, however, recognition of the work that has been done by members of the Service for the past several decades and, in particular, working in partnership with the various agencies that make Boost function efficiently and effectively. I accept this award on behalf of the members of the Service who have worked to bring about this initiative that is providing excellent service.”