Across Ontario, hundreds of dedicated organizations and individuals are making a difference for youth every day. Stepping Stones is intended to support and enhance the work of these adult allies by presenting a shared understanding of how youth develop in a clear and cohesive way. While every person is unique, the stages of development between childhood and adulthood are consistent across populations and generations. However, today’s youth, more than ever, face a complex and constantly evolving world. Stepping Stones has been created to serve as a tool to guide the development and delivery of high quality services and supports for youth province-wide. Together, we can ensure that all young people in Ontario are fully supported in becoming purposeful, involved and engaged members of our communities and our province.

About this resource

Stepping Stones: A Resource on Youth Development was created by the Ontario Government in broad consultation with researchers, youth, community leaders and service providers. It is designed to support those who work with youth aged 12 to 25 by providing:

  • An overview of youth development: A detailed look at the predictable developmental stages of youth aged 12 to 25, and the ways in which we can identify and respond to the needs of youth at each stage of their development.
  • Developmental maps: Chart-based summaries of key developmental events for early adolescents, adolescents and young adults, and suggested supports aligned with each developmental stage.
  • Tips for implementation: Examples of how to adapt, specialize and apply this information in a way that is relevant and meaningful in communities across Ontario.

Who it is for

This resource is for organizations and individuals who, either directly or indirectly, support and influence the well-being and development of youth:

  • communities and community organizations
  • youth organizations
  • parents, families and caregivers
  • physicians and health care organizations
  • educators and education and training institutions
  • policy makers and decision makers

Stepping Stones will be of interest to anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge of how youth develop (physically, cognitively, emotionally and socially), and the ways they can be supported through these transitions. It is important to acknowledge, however, that this resource is not a diagnostic tool designed to gauge a young person’s progress against a set of targets, nor a screening tool to uncover potential developmental delays. A variety of tools exist for those purposes.

Look for these text features

An illustration of a speech bubble. This section provides information heard from Ontario youth.In their own voices
What we heard from Ontario youth

An illustration of a gold magnifying glass. This section provides more information to deepen your knowledge. Digging deeper
Information to deepen your knowledge

The letter ‘I’ in lowercase. This section provides helpful ideas to consider.Insight
Helpful ideas to consider