The Protective Safe House

Protection of Children Using Drugs (PChAD) Program

The Protection of Children Abusing Drugs (PChAD) program has four Protective Safe Houses (PSH) across Alberta. The PSHs are located in Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton and Grande Prairie.

Arrival at the safe house

A copy of the child’s PChAD Protection Order must accompany the child to the PSH and be given to staff before the child can be admitted. If the child is being transported by the police, the PChAD Protection Order will be given to PSH staff by the police. The child’s parents/guardians will then be notified by phone that the child has arrived at the PSH.

When your child arrives at the PSH, your child and their belongings will be searched, using the least-intrusive method possible to ensure restricted items are not being brought into the PSH and to ensure safety. This might include the child removing their outer layers of clothing and their shoes, or changing into new clothing provided by the PSH. Two staff members will be present for any type of search.

When your child arrives at the PSH, they will be made aware of their legal right to review their PChAD Protection Order. This will be explained to them both verbally and in writing. (For more information, view Review and Extension Process.)

What items does the PSH provide?

Every PSH will provide your child with:

  • Hygiene products (e.g., toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo etc.)
  • Nutritious food
  • Bedding
  • Some of the PSH’s require children to wear clothing provided by the PSH (e.g., sweatpants and t-shirts)


Once the child has arrived at the PSH, parents/guardians who are present will have the chance to discuss their medication use with safe-house staff. Staff members may ask the child’s parents/guardians to bring any current prescription medications that the child is taking, in a pharmacy bottle with the correct labels.

Safe-house staff will administer the child’s medication with their cooperation. If the child refuses to take the medication, then their parents/guardians will be notified. Any medication that is taken, missed or refused will be documented in the child’s health record.

What not to bring

The following items are not allowed in any PSH:

  • Electronics
  • Items that may cause harm to others (e.g., knives, other sharp objects)
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Food
  • Any other non-prescription drugs

Visitors to the PSH will need to check with staff prior to bringing in any items.

Services provided by the PSH

Once your child is admitted into a PSH, they will undergo detoxification, stabilization and assessment. The child will then be closely monitored by safe-house staff through in person frequent checks and/or video surveillance.

The assessment is an ongoing process that includes individual counselling, the use of standardized assessment tools, group counselling, and direct observation. The child’s Alberta Health Services addiction counsellor will also meet with the child’s parents/guardians (either in person or over the phone) and may include any information in their assessment report which is provided once the child is discharged.

The child may also:

  • attend and participate in psychoeducational groups
  • participate in discharge and treatment planning
  • attend and participate in family counselling
  • have access to indoor/outdoor recreational activities such as a gym, exercise equipment or a sensory room, depending on the PSH
  • access 24/7 support from staff

The child’s right to confidentiality

Alberta’s Health Information Act determines how a person’s health information can be collected, used and shared. Your child’s right to confidentiality will be maintained in accordance with this act. AHS counsellors are also expected to comply with AHS information-sharing procedures.

Parent / guardian involvement

The PChAD program practices patient and family- centered care and encourages participation and involvement between staff, parents/guardians and their child. Parents/guardians will also be offered opportunities to access family counselling and groups.

Are children kept at the PSH at all times?

Yes. Once children are involuntarily confined to the PSH they remain there until their PChAD Protection Order is terminated.