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The Child at Risk Response Team (CARRT) Today

04-Dec-2015

Cst. Barry Fairhurst and social worker Liz Rzechowska sat down with us to fill us in on how CARRT operates today.

"How will Santa find me?" (Eight-year-old CARRT client)

It was just before Christmas when CARRT member Cst. Barry Fairhurst and his  partner (Social Worker Marley McGonigle) knocked on the door of a woman they knew was selling drugs. An eight-year-old boy, home all alone, opened the door.

“We were there because this little guy’s mom neglected to pay attention to what he needed. It concerned me as the boy was okay with CARRT members taking him out of his home. He looked up at me and asked how Santa would find him once he was placed in care. That was his only concern.

Here was a little boy about to be removed from his home, and he still believed in the magic, he still believed in Santa.

His mother was making terrible decisions based upon her addictions and lifestyle choices. I feel that CARRT is necessary to provide children like this with a voice, a voice that tells their parents that the decisions they make have a huge impact on their kids’ lives.

Kids are very resilient, but they still need someone to tell their parents that their actions have to stop, as their kids are being neglected and hurt.”

It’s all about partnerships

“I knew a lot of CARRT social workers before I joined so I knew what to expect,” says Social Worker Liz Rzechowska. “I was surprised, though, at how busy it is, at the sheer amount of things that happen on a Monday or Tuesday night. You would just not imagine when you’re chilling with your family, what’s going on out there . . . what we’re dealing with every single day.”

Rzechowska notes that she was accustomed to interviewing families and victims from a Children Services perspective, which is all about safety. Because of her time with CARRT, the interviews she now conducts are more expansive. She has learned what type of information police officers need in order to lay charges.

She went on to note, “We work with lots of other professionals as well, like the Crown and the Child Adolescent Protection Centre at the Stollery where they specialize in exams that detect abuse.

CARRT also has amazing volunteers. Sometimes the big files come in on a weekend. We have on-call staff who can call in volunteers at a moment’s notice. Dedicated and highly trained volunteers will show up in the middle of the night to sit with the kids. They’re an important part of our team.”