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A Sustained Commitment: Cross-Cutting Actions

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The Province of Ontario is increasing its commitment to working together with youth allies to support all young people to become healthy, safe, hopeful, engaged, educated and contributing members of their communities and our province.

Stepping Up has identified 20 outcomes that matter to the wellbeing of Ontario's young people. Through this framework, the Province of Ontario is renewing its commitment to youth wellbeing – and establishing these outcomes as priorities for action moving forward.

The guiding principles proposed through Stepping Up help to clarify how we will work towards achieving these priorities. They are:

  1. A Positive, Asset-Based View of Youth
  2. Targeted Support for Those Who Need It
  3. Collaboration and Partnership
  4. Meaningful Youth Engagement and Leadership
  5. Diversity
  6. Evidence-Informed Choice
  7. Transparency

Based on these principles, and in order to support progress towards the outcomes we want for our youth, the Province of Ontario is committing to the following cross-cutting actions, designed to create the conditions for success

  1. Provide sustained, positive-oriented leadership
  2. Focus on the needs of marginalized youth
  3. Support collaboration, local planning and partnership
  4. Increase youth voice in design and delivery of services
  5. Increase capacity to better serve diverse and marginalized youth
  6. Support research and evaluation
  7. Provide updates and information on the wellbeing of Ontario's youth

Action #1: Provide sustained, positive-oriented leadership

Sustained Leadership: We recognize that supporting all of Ontario's young people to develop successfully is a complex and multi-faceted goal. Moving forward, we are committed to using this strategic framework to guide our actions and choices. We are also committed to using it to inform our partnerships with others to better guide mutual decisions and investments.

Action #2: Focus on the needs of marginalized youth

Developing relevant and innovative solutions: Ontario will continue to see youth as a priority through investments in programs such as those made under Ontario's Youth Action Plan and the Youth Leaving Care Strategy. The services and supports we provide to youth need to be flexible, responsive and relevant to the changing needs of all youth. We know cultural, social, economic and geographical factors specific to youth must be considered when developing youth programs.

Youth Opportunities Fund. We are launching a Youth Opportunities Fund to support the development of innovative projects in priority neighborhoods to help at-risk youth stay on track.


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Action #3: Support collaboration, local planning and partnership

Improving programs through cross-government coordination: The collaborative effort to develop Stepping Up brought together representatives from ministries across the provincial government to talk about young people and the outcomes that matter to them in a holistic and comprehensive way. We learned a lot from working together and we are committed to improving collaboration across ministries to better serve youth.

Establishing a Cross-ministry Working Group. The establishment of a permanent working group – representing 18 youth-serving ministries – will fill a gap at the cross-cutting government level related to youth issues. Through collaboration with the Premier's Council on Youth Opportunities, the working group will break down sector silos and address specific issues in youth-serving programs that were identified through the Ontario youth program review, as well as other issues as they emerge.

Supporting sectors to collaborate: Ontario communities have opportunities to improve outcomes for youth through the development of strategic plans and by forming linkages and improving relationships across sectors. We know that there are some communities already doing this work that we can all learn from. As announced in Ontario's Youth Action Plan, the Ontario government will provide supports to promote collaboration across sectors.

Cross-Sector Local Youth Planning. Supports for local planning will help youth and those who work with youth to set priorities together, reduce duplication and enhance existing capacity and service provision in their communities. By bringing together representatives from governments, school boards, the justice system, private business, community agencies and young people themselves, youth planning tables will foster better alignment between program goals and result in lasting location-based solutions.

Increasing opportunities for partnerships: We will also work closely with partners in the private sector to increase opportunities for business to contribute to the wellbeing of youth and support at-risk youth to succeed in areas like employment.

Private Sector Jobs and Mentorship Initiative. We are partnering with the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance to engage youth, employers, labour representatives, community leaders and governments to increase job, mentorship and entrepreneurship opportunities for at-risk youth in the private sector. We will look to identify immediate and long-term actions to overcome barriers that at-risk youth face when looking for, and starting, a job; attract the private sector to provide more job and mentorship opportunities; and encourage communities across Ontario to partner with the private sector to help at-risk youth succeed.


Action#4: Increase youth voice in design and delivery of services

Photo of two young people reading in a park

Fostering youth leadership: Involving young people in decision-making supports their futures. Doing so across the province will help ensure the services and supports in which we have invested will maximize positive youth development and allow youth to achieve their highest potential. We will try to create opportunities for meaningful youth involvement in decision-making through the programs and services they access. We will build on existing efforts to engage youth (for example, the Minister's Student Advisory Council of the Ministry of Education, the Feathers of Hope First Nations Youth Forum).

As a first priority, the government will direct the Premier's Council on Youth Opportunities to work with program staff to develop a plan to increase youth engagement in service design and delivery.

Premier's Council on Youth Opportunities.First introduced in Ontario's Youth Action Plan, the Premier's Council on Youth Opportunities has been established to provide advice to government on how to support youth through existing programs, lead thinking on new directions, and apply a "youth lens" to decision-making. The Council has a membership of 25 youth and young professionals, and is now a permanent feature of the provincial government's approach to youth services.

Supporting Youth-led Innovation: We know that issues like poverty, social isolation and youth violence require innovative solutions and an all-hands-on-deck approach – and recognize that creative solutions are needed to tackle these social problems. Youth is a developmental stage that supports inventive and innovative thinking. This period of creativity can be channeled to address pressing social problems when youth are supported to lead and empowered to act as agents of change.

Action #5: Increase capacity to better serve diverse and marginalized youth

Ensuring that services are inclusive and culturally responsive: Stepping Up has catalogued many programs and services for youth that are already provided by the Government of Ontario. We know that marginalized young people may not always feel comfortable accessing these services. We know that, to be effective, Ontario's youth programs need to reflect and be responsive to the diverse needs and backgrounds of the young people they serve. We are committed to strengthen diversity in Ontario's youth programs to better reflect the composition of the communities they serve. This involves:

  1. Building capacity of service providers to better serve diverse youth
  2. Strengthening outreach to youth through partnerships with culturally diverse grassroots agencies

We will work with our partners to develop strategies in this area.

Photo of young man working on a house

Action #6: Support research and evaluation

Increasing knowledge of youth development: Over the past few years, there has been an impressive increase in the quantity and quality of research in youth development and the supports required by youth to successfully transition to adulthood. This body of knowledge continues to evolve. It is important that we continue to embrace emerging evidence, innovative approaches and new knowledge - and to apply these in our work with youth. We will continue working to make this information more readily available to the people who are supporting the positive development of young people - whether they are youth, business leaders, caregivers, teachers, mentors, community planners, or policy-makers.

Mobilizing Knowledge. The government will continue to mobilize research on positive youth development, including Stepping Stones: A Resource on Youth Development, to increase understanding of youth development and invest in continuous quality improvement in Ontario's youth programming.

Increasing linkages to research and evaluation: There is broad consensus that youth services and supports across the province must do a better job of identifying their impact and that more focus is needed on the quality of services youth receive. We will share best practices and maximize positive youth development across the province. To do this, we will continue to research effective programs, identify best practices and leading strategies, and provide tools so we can all measure how effective our programs are.

Supports for Research and Evaluation. We are launching a plan to provide tools to support the measurement and evaluation by community programs and increase evidence on their effectiveness. This plan will support agencies delivering services to youth to tell their story, measure their impact and be guided by evidence.


Action #7: Provide updates and information on the wellbeing of Ontario's youth

Reporting on youth outcomes: An important part of Stepping Up is to provide a set of outcomes and indicators around which we can align our work in support of youth. We will continue to pay attention to how youth are doing through monitoring of these outcomes and indicators. We will also ensure that we work with the sector to capture additional qualitative data related to the themes identified that may not be fully captured by the indicators. This will help us understand how youth development in Ontario is progressing.

Tracking the Wellbeing of Youth. Beginning in 2013, the Ontario government will report on youth outcomes each year by tracking Stepping Up's outcomes and indicators and the implementation of Ontario Youth Strategy initiatives.

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