Child advocate office in Thompson opening later than initially planned

While they initially hoped to have their new Thompson location up and running by the end of the summer, a representative from the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth (MACY) recently told the Thompson Citizen that they have had to push their timetable back a couple months.

“There are some practicalities that we have to deal with first before we can do that,” said deputy Manitoba Advocate Ainsley Krone, referencing the fact that their planned office renovations will take at least three months to complete.

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Despite this setback, Krone says her colleagues from MACY are “super excited” to set up shop in the Hub of the North, since this new office will mark the first time they’ve established a brick-and-mortar operation outside of Winnipeg.

“Over the course of the last number of years, we kept pretty careful track of where we travel, how frequently we travel, what issues are coming up different areas of the province,” said Krone. “A lot of the northern communities that we do work with … see Thompson as kind of a central hub, and so that was one of our motivators for selecting Thompson for our second location.”

MACY itself has undergone a pretty radical transformation throughout the last couple months. Back in the spring, the organization was known as the Office of the Children’s Advocate of Manitoba and was responsible for representing the rights and interests of youth within the child welfare program.

However, following the passing of The Advocate for Children and Youth Act on March 15, this independent office of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly got a new name and a new mandate that expanded to include youth from outside of the province’s child welfare system.

“So we’re not only looking at child welfare issues, but we’re also available to support people in the areas of disabilities, justice, mental health, addictions, victim support services, which includes anyone dealing with domestic violence or sexual exploitation,” said Krone.

This expanded mandate also gives MACY the power to publicly release findings from their investigations into the deaths of children under government care, an action that was strictly forbidden before this new legislation passed.

While the exact location of MACY’s new Thompson office remains under wraps for now, Krone was able to reveal that they will be hiring two local staff to help their advocacy officers get a better handle on the unique needs of Thompson residents and members of the surrounding communities.

“We’re looking forward to being able to expand and develop not only our knowledge base within those different service domain areas, but also ensuring that youth can have one place that they can go to help them with all the different public services that they’re accessing.”

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