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MINISTRY PROGRAMS AND ACTIVITIES

A) A HEALTHIER POPULATION

  • 1) Child and Youth Mental Health

Approximately one in five Ontarians experience a mental health challenge. The Moving on Mental Health plan is working to ensure that youth and their families can easily Ministry of Children and Youth Services 7 of 105 navigate core mental health services as close to home as possible for a range of conditions, such as depression, behavioral problems or anxiety.

These local services are coordinated by community-based child and youth mental health lead agencies, which are also responsible for collaborating with schools, hospitals, primary care, child welfare authorities and other child and youth serving sectors to improve access to needed supports and services.

  • 2) Services and Supports for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Beginning in 2016-17, Ontario is investing $538 million over five years to improve and expand autism services so that more children and youth receive critical interventions sooner and services are better matched to their needs.

  • 3) Children’s Rehabilitation Services

The ministry funds 20 Children’s Treatment Centres, which provide core rehabilitation services in local communities, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech-language therapy. These centres served more than 76,000 children and youth with special needs in 2015-16 across Ontario. Children’s Treatment Centres offer a variety of other services and clinics depending on local needs and the mix of other providers in each community.

  • 4) Special Needs Strategy

The ministry is working with other ministries and local communities to implement the Special Needs Strategy, which will help young Ontarians with a range of needs, such as autism, physical and developmental disabilities, rehabilitation, and hearing and vision challenges, to connect with the services they need as early as possible and have a better service experience.

The strategy lays the foundation for a system where young people with special needs get the timely and effective services they need to participate fully at home, at school, in the community, and as they prepare to achieve their goals for adulthood.

This vision will be achieved through a new preschool developmental surveillance process for earlier identification of developmental concerns, Coordinated Service Planning, and the integrated delivery of rehabilitation services.

  • a) Developmental Surveillance Process

All children for whom there is a developmental concern will be identified as early as possible through a flexible, continuous developmental surveillance process. A new surveillance tool and accompanying learning resource, currently in validation and Ministry of Children and Youth Services 8 of 105 prototype testing, will facilitate conversation among parents and providers to enhance understanding of a child’s development and, when needed, connect them to appropriate early identification and intervention services.

  • b) Coordinated Service Planning

New Service Planning Coordinators will help connect families of children and youth with multiple and/or complex special needs to the services and supports they need and create holistic Coordinated Service Plans.This Coordinated Service Plan will take into account all of their goals, strengths, and needs, as well as the services that the child or youth is or will be, receiving without families having to unnecessarily repeat their stories.

  • c) Integrated Rehabilitation Services

The integrated delivery of rehabilitation services will mean that children who need occupational therapy, physiotherapy and/or speech and language services will experience seamless service delivery from birth through to school exit, including the transition from preschool to school-based services.

  • d) Regional Service Resolution

The ministry is planning improvements to service resolution for children and youth with multiple and/or complex special needs and their families. These changes will lead to a transparent service resolution process with accountable decision-making that is easily understood and available when families need it. This will lead to better service experiences for families and better outcomes for children and youth.

  • e) Transition Planning

An integrated transition plan for young people with developmental disabilities supports youth as they move into adulthood and search for work, further education and engagement with their community. This process involves parents, service providers and schools.

  • 5) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

Starting in 2017-18, the ministry is investing $26 million over four years to expand support for children, youth and families affected by FASD. Initiatives will help reduce the prevalence of the disorder, increase coordination of services, improve the quality of life for those with FASD, and enhance support for families and caregivers.

  • 6) Healthy Babies Healthy Children

The Healthy Babies Healthy Children program supports healthy child development by screening pregnant women and families from birth to the child’s transition to school. Intensive blended home visiting services are offered to families confirmed to be at risks.

  • 7) Early Years Community Support

The ministry supports Healthy Child Development through a number of programs providing screening, assessment and intervention services to children, youth and their families (e.g., Ontario Infant Hearing Program, Preschool Speech and Language Program).

B) TOWARDS A FAIR SOCIETY

  • 1) Child Protection Services

All children deserve to grow up in safe, stable and caring environments. In cases where abuse or neglect are suspected and/or verified, children and youth in Ontario are supported by 38 children’s aid societies, and ten Indigenous child well-being societies (societies).

The ministry provides funds to these societies to investigate child abuse, provide protection services and alternate living arrangements, and facilitate adoptions. The ultimate goal of these services is to prevent abuse and neglect, create permanent, stable homes and help prepare these young people for future success.

The ministry also continues to implement the Strategy to Further Transform Ontario’s Child Welfare System, which aims to move the child welfare system towards long-term sustainability, improve outcomes and the experiences of children and youth receiving services and strengthen the accountability of societies.

As part of that work, Ontario announced the Permanency, Adoption and Stability Strategy in September 2015 to make it easier for children and youth in the care of societies to find permanent homes, while providing more support to adoptive parents. The ministry has also required societies to develop and implement Quality Improvement Plans (QIPs) to address non-compliance with a number of requirements and standards for child welfare identified by the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario.

Implementation also continues for the Child Protection Information Network (CPIN), a multi-year initiative to implement a common information system for all societies across the province. To date, 17 societies are live on CPIN with two more societies scheduled to go live by summer 2017. The remaining societies will be on-boarded to CPIN through a phased approach, with full implementation by 2019-20.

The ministry continues to support the designation of Indigenous child well-being societies to support Indigenous communities to provide culturally-appropriate services and supports.

Beginning in 2017-18, the ministry is investing $134 million over four years to support new initiatives in the child welfare sector. This investment will build on the work of previous transformation initiatives with an evidence-based and targeted approach to address current policy and program challenges and to improve quality and oversight for the child welfare and residential services system.

Further, the ministry is supporting new legislation to strengthen and modernize child, youth, and family services. If passed, the proposed Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 would increase the age of protection to 18, put children and youth at the centre of decision-making, support more accountable, responsive and accessible, child and youth services, and strengthen oversight for societies and licensed residential services.

  • 2) Child and Youth Residential Services

Residential care for children and youth in Ontario is delivered by a diverse mix of service providers, including ministry direct-operated, transfer payment operated, private non-profit and for-profit operators. Children and youth may come into residential care for a number of reasons, including:

  • Protection concerns identified by a children’s aid society.
  • A court order for youth in conflict with the law.
  • Developmental and physical challenges, medical conditions, behavioural difficulties, mental health, psychiatric disorders and/or substance abuse problems, with parental consent.

The Minister of Children and Youth Services has a mandate from the Premier to develop a blueprint to reform child and youth residential services and improve the quality of care for children and youth in licensed residential care. The work is being guided by the Residential Services Review Panel’s Report, Because Young People Matter, along with input from stakeholders, including the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth.

Working in partnership with the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, the ministry established a Youth Panel comprised of youth with lived experience of residential care to ensure that the voices of youth are central to our work and guide us as we move forward.

The ministry is seeking the advice of service providers and stakeholders through a reference group to help guide the reform of licensed residential services for children and youth.

As well, the ministry is building on our strong partnership with First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous partners to co-develop approaches that will address their distinct needs with respect to licensed residential services.

In the meantime, the ministry is implementing an action plan to take immediate measures to support the safety and oversight of residential settings. We are responding, and we will be:

  • Conducting more targeted unannounced inspections of residences based on new tools developed to assess compliance of licensed residences. This includes Serious Occurrence data, complaints, and other risk analytics.
  • Working with fire and municipal officials to determine ways to strengthen safety in residences and increase the reporting on compliance with Fire Code, Building Code and municipal by-laws, as applicable. This would include requiring updated documentation respecting fire evacuation and emergency procedures.
  • Establishing an Intensive Site Review Team to visit licensed residential settings across the province. This builds upon the experience of a residential oversight response team.
  • Expanding the data already collected and reported by Societies and other service providers respecting placements of all children and youth in the residential system. This will support better reporting back to communities, for example, the number of children from the North receiving residential services in the South.
  • 3) Youth Leaving Care

The ministry is continuing to work with children’s aid societies and Indigenous child well-being societies to provide support and resources for youth leaving care. These resources include: youth-in-transition workers to help youth make a smooth transition to independent living and adulthood; grants to attend postsecondary education and training; and aftercare benefits for prescriptions, dental and extended health benefits.

  • 4) Services and Supports for Indigenous Children and Youth

First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children and youth are one of the fastest growing populations in Ontario. They face a number of unique challenges, from poverty to overrepresentation in the child welfare and youth justice systems.

Through the Ontario Indigenous Children and Youth Strategy, the ministry is working with First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous partners to support the unique needs of Indigenous children, youth and families in Ontario.

Indigenous children and youth deserve to grow up healthy, happy, resilient, grounded in their cultures and languages, and thriving as individuals and as members of their families and communities.

The Family Well-Being program is a key initiative of the Strategy, and provides funding for Indigenous partners to design and deliver a continuum of prevention-based, culturally-specific supports. The program is also part of Ontario’s commitment to implement Walking Together: Ontario’s Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women to prevent violence against Indigenous women and reduce its impact on youth, families and communities. The multi-ministry strategy is supported by an investment of $100 million over three years.

Other programs that are aligned with the principles of the Ontario Indigenous Children and Youth Strategy include, MCYS’s investment in:

  • The Aboriginal Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program.
  • Indigenous Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Child Nutrition Program.
  • Indigenous Mental Health and Addictions Workers.
  • Prevention and rehabilitation services.
  • Akwe:go and Wasa-Nabin Urban Indigenous Programs.
  • Capacity funding for the Ontario Indigenous Children and Youth Strategy.

The ministry invests $4.8 million per year in 45 community-based programs and supports specifically for Indigenous youth in, or at risk of, conflict with the law. Culturally appropriate programs include prevention, diversion, alternatives to custody and reintegration.

The ministry is investing $17 million in 2017-18 and $23 million in 2018-19 and ongoing for Indigenous youth life promotion initiatives that include:

  • Holistic Response and Prevention, which combine clinical services and cultural/land-based programming.
  • Enhancement of the Tele-Mental Health Service to enable more outreach to Indigenous communities and additional specialized consultations.
  • Mental health and addictions workers and supports for students in First Nations schools.

The ministry was pleased to work with Pikangikum First Nation and other ministry partners to open a new youth community hub in April 2017 to provide safe, welcoming environments for youth, services, and programming.

  • 5) Ontario Youth Action Plan

In 2015, Ontario invested $55 million over a three-year period to expand successful youth engagement and empowerment initiatives beyond the Greater Toronto Area, while addressing the root causes of youth violence and further enhancing community supports. In total, Ontario provides 65,000 opportunities per year to at-risk youth.

This expansion was a part of the Ontario Youth Action Plan, a multi-ministry, 20 commitment plan, announced in 2012, which has since been implemented and provides ongoing services to youth.

In March 2017 Ontario announced the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan; an investment of $47 million over four years to increase access to supports for 10,800 Black children, youth, and families. The Ontario Black Youth Action Plan will:

  • Invest in culturally-focused parenting initiatives and mentoring programs.
  • Encourage Black children to stay in school by investing in early intervention programming.
  • Help Black students access higher education through culturally-focused outreach.
  • Ensure programs and policies meet the specific needs of at-risk youth through Ontario-based research.
  • Help Black youth find their career path by investing in targeted skills development programs.
  • Invest in community outreach and violence prevention.

The Ontario Black Youth Action Plan builds on partnerships in the community to more specifically address the needs and improve the outcomes of Black youth in Windsor, Ottawa and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

  • 6) Collective Impact for Disconnected Youth

The ministry is exploring new ways to address complex social problems by testing a Collective Impact approach to improve outcomes for youth not in employment, education or training.

Collective Impact is the commitment to solve specific social problems using a structured form of collaboration between groups from different sectors, such as business, not-for-profits and government.

The ministry will establish demonstration communities for the Collective Impact model in up to five communities by Fall 2017.

  • 7) Ontario Child Benefit and Ontario Child Benefit Equivalent

The Ontario Child Benefit helps families with the cost of raising children under the age of 18 years. In 2016-17, payments increased to a maximum of $1,356 per child, per year. The benefit program helps about one million children, in over 500,000 low- to moderate-income families.

The Ontario Child Benefit Equivalent (OCBE) payments are provided directly to children’s aid societies and Indigenous child well-being societies to provide children and youth in care, or in customary care, with increased educational, recreational, cultural and social Ministry of Children and Youth Services 14 of 105 opportunities. OCB payments also provide a savings program for older youth in care to improve their educational outcomes, build their resilience, and enable them to transition smoothly to adulthood.

The OCBE program provided supports to 9,560 children and youth in care and in customary care in 2015-16. Approximately 6,075 eligible youth aged 15-17 years participated in the OCBE savings program that year.

C) STRENGTHENED PUBLIC SAFETY AND SECURITY

  • 1) Youth Justice Services

The ministry provides programs and services to youth (aged 12 to 17 years at the time of the offence), who are in or at risk of conflict with the law. Ontario’s youth justice system provides a continuum of evidence-informed community and custodial programs that are aligned with the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). Programs and services are intended to:

  • Reduce re-offending, contribute to community safety and prevent youth crime through rehabilitative programming, holding youth accountable, successfully transitioning youth out of custody and creating opportunities for youth at risk.
  • Improve outcomes for youth through programs and services that are responsive to the risks, needs and strengths of youth.

In addition, the ministry is taking a comprehensive approach to the collection and use of data to define and measure the impact of youth justice services.

Youth justice transformation has resulted in an 83 percent decrease in the number of youth in custody and a 46 percent decrease in the number of youth in detention (between 2003-04 and 2015-16). Thousands of young people are accessing over 400 community-based programs1. Moreover, nine out of ten youth currently receive services in the community.

D) MODERNIZED INFRASTRUCTURE

  • 1) Infrastructure Program

The ministry’s 2017-18 infrastructure plan is focused on developing program specific infrastructure investment plans and making strategic investments in infrastructure that enable ministry program outcomes.

Investments help children's treatment centres, children’s aid societies, youth centres and other sites used to deliver ministry programs provide safe and comfortable environments for the children and families who rely on their services.

In 2017, the construction of the new state-of-the-art ErinoakKids children's treatment centre facilities in Mississauga, Oakville and Brampton continues. Ontario is investing $163 million in construction costs for three ErinoakKids facilities. When complete, the centres will serve nearly 15,000 children and youth in Peel, Halton and Dufferin. They will provide services for children and youth with physical, developmental and communication disorders, hearing and vision impairment and for children and youth who are on the autism spectrum.

MCYS will continue to develop an asset management plan with a focus on enabling business transformation, better outcomes, sustaining and enhancing service delivery capacity, and demonstrating effective stewardship of public assets.

  • 2) Infrastructure Program – Youth Justice Services

As a result of the ministry’s youth justice transformation the need for detention/custody services in Ontario has dramatically declined. Consequently, the Province is repurposing the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre, an underused youth justice facility, to meet the unique environmental and programming needs of adult female offenders, including those who require specialized mental health services. The facility will be transferred to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and the government will construct smaller, strategically located and program appropriate facilities to effectively and efficiently support the programming needs of youth in conflict with the law.

  • 3) Toronto District School Board Community Hubs

Ontario is seeking to preserve vital community services by proposing to purchase two facilities from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) to maintain them as community hubs.

This proposed investment would mean the full range of support services currently offered at McNicoll Public School in North York, and Silver Creek Public School in Etobicoke, would continue to be available for local children and their families.

Community hubs improve the daily lives of people in Ontario by offering multiple services, often in a highly integrated, citizen-centred way and under one roof.