For the first time since opening nearly two years ago, the Be Brave Ranch welcomed a government of Alberta minister to tour the site.
“I think it’s a new chapter with this government,” Glori Meldrum, founder of Little Warriors, said.
The wait list for kids to get into the treatment facility for child victim’s of sexual abuse is currently at eight months and is growing by the day. Little Warriors said it has the capacity to take in more children, but it doesn’t have the funding necessary to hire the staff needed to treat the kids.
“I have parents calling and saying, ‘what do I have to do to get my kid in earlier?'” Meldrum said.
“These kids have lots of issues, they have lots of pain and they’ve got to wait for the treatment side.”
Children stay at the ranch for 28 days then return every three months for a total of 200 hours of treatment.
The Be Brave Ranch treats the children at a cost of $25,000 per child. All of its funding comes from private donors and Little Warriors has been advocating for government funding for years.
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The founder would like to see funding come from the Proceeds of Crime fund. Meldrum would also like the opportunity to treat children who are in government care, where the province would pay for their stay at the ranch.
Minister of Human Services Irfan Sabir spent Tuesday touring the facility, asking questions and answering questions for the organization.
Meldrum said Tuesday’s meeting was about finding someone within the Human Services ministry that could help navigate the government system.
“Navigating and finding out people that can tell you what you need to do and where you need to go… it’s not easy,” said Meldrum.
Sabir called the meeting “the beginning of a relationship” and said that although the government already funds several sexual abuse centres, like Zebra Child Protection Centre in Edmonton and the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, the door is not closed for organizations like Little Warriors.
“Certainly we are willing to work with every community agency to make sure that we have all needed and necessary supports for the survivors of sexual assault in place,” said Sabir.
No promises were made when it comes to funding for the organization, but Meldrum is hopeful that this is the first of many steps forward to a sustainable relationship with the provincial government.