1. Brief history
Our CAP story begins with a group of Canadian women who worked with victims of sexual violence. This experience led them to think more deeply about preventing abuse and educating individuals, particularly young people, about assault and its prevalence. Consequently, in 1985, the same Help Center that was coordinating the fight against sexual assault organized the visit of Sally Cooper, the 1st director and founder of CAP Ohio. She then trained six instructors who became responsible for the implementation and adaptation of the CAP Project in Québec.
Between January 1985 and fall 1987, nine regional teams were set up via the Help Center, and this relationship provided the funding which allowed CAP to offer the program in the field. In 1988, ROEQ (Regroupement des organismes ESPACE Québec) was created to offer CAP workshops in elementary schools and daycare centers.
In June 1990, the Québec government, through the Minister of Health and Social Services, asked ROEQ for a strategy for the implementation of the CAP Project throughout Quebec. In addition, recurring funding was provided to the organizations based on this new relationship. Such gains marked an important victory for CAP programs in Quebec!!!
The ROEQ and all the CAP projects demonstrated continuous growth in the early 2000s as the government implemented different plans for addressing sexual or spousal violence, and CAP was ready to respond with an increase in program services.
In 2018, the ROEQ celebrated 30 years of existence, and now consists of 10 CAP organizations which have been working to ensure that more and more children in Québec will have a safe childhood free from violence. This mission represents the core of our CAP programs and the daily commitment each program has to preventing all forms of violence against children.
2. Key factors in degree of development and success
The CAP program is unique in Québec. It’s one of very few whose actions address adults, preschool, and elementary-aged children in three separate evidence-supported workshops. These workshops are offered to the staff, then to parents and other adults in the children’s life, and lastly to all the children in a school, daycare center, recreational or sport group, or any other child-based environment.
The CAP-ESPACE workshop has been evaluated and the results of the research indicate the positive impact of the program. The program has been the subject of various scientific publications in Québec and elsewhere which points to the efficacy and feasibility of the program[i]. The CAP model is consistent with and responsive to government policies, whether in education or early childhood. CAP programs address all forms of violence through trained teams and facilitators.
The development and implementation of a consolidation plan for the CAP programs in Québec has made it possible to strengthen CAP, and to demonstrate to the government that their financial support is important to ensure safe childhoods free from violence.
3. Challenges and barriers faced
Funding, still funding! The consolidation of our organizations and a real recognition of our expertise by the government is critical to the maintenance and expansion of our services!
Funding remains at the heart of our concerns, and it is important to emphasize that funding is needed to reach all children, especially the most vulnerable. So, we are adapting our workshops to children with special needs (intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder…) and even to the different native communities, which contributes to our ability to respond to needs identified by the government.
All organizations in Québec want to maintain their autonomy and freedom of action, even though the government often wants to try to integrate our program into their structure. We do not want this integration, and think our program operates most effectively independently.
4. Story of impact
During our 30 years of existence, our success has been proven through research as well as through reports of participant satisfaction, demonstrated through the testimony of parents and other adults. An example of a typical comment we receive from educators after our workshop delivery follows:
” Your message is being heard by the children, we have witnessed them telling a bully, ¨stop harassing him, don’t you remember what we talked about yesterday?´´ The witnesses’ comment ended the bullying situation that was going down. Congratulations to the students who spoke up. ”
The CAP workshops have allowed us to work on prevention, in order to improve the school climate, as well as equipping children to intervene in violent situations. The CAP program is particularly appreciated in the designated schools that serve special needs children, who experience more violence.
5. What’s needed now to grow
After 30 years, the ROEQ- CAP and The ESPACE program are well recognized by the provincial government, and we strive to share our expertise by participating in a new evaluative research on the impacts of ESPACE workshops on children.
We are now recognized as part of the government’s prevention plans through participation in the drafting of briefs and inclusion in parliamentary committees, which all serves to make our organization more visible. Currently ROEQ-CAP serves 10 of Quebec’s 17 regional jurisdictions. Our hope it to be able to eventually expand to the remaining seven by developing new ESPACE organizations in the seven jurisdictions where CAP is not currently offered.
[i] See, for example, the study summarized in the Evaluation section of this website: 2001 –Hebert, Lavoie, Piche, Poitras (University of Québec at Montreal).