Mandate letter progress: Children and Youth Services
The Minister’s response letter to Premier Wynne, outlining the results achieved on key mandate priorities in 2014-15.
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January 11, 2016
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
I am pleased to advise you on the progress we are making on the items outlined in my September 2014 mandate letter. Our success at the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) is achieved in collaboration with partner ministries, other levels of government and the public and private sectors.
Progress for the children and youth of Ontario is built on the foundation that all components of society have a role to play in supporting positive child and youth outcomes. I am pleased to report that our work at MCYS is garnering national and international attention, as other jurisdictions are looking to us for best practices in helping children and youth reach their full potential.
- We continue to work with children’s aid societies (CASs) to emphasize prevention so that, wherever possible, children can remain with their families with appropriate supports.
- We have doubled the number of adoptions and permanency placements in recent years, and we are introducing new subsidies and supports to ensure even more kids have access to forever families.
- We have increased our focus on transparency and accountability by introducing cyclical reviews and common performance measures for all CASs and through the passage of Bill 8, which gives the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth investigatory functions over CASs.
- We continue to work with the Ministry of Education, school boards and CASs on improving the educational outcomes of children and youth in care, and are now rolling out a provincial IT system for CASs to improve safety for children across the province.
- We will continue to raise public awareness of the duty to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
- We continue to work with our partners to improve the child welfare system and outcomes for children, building on the advice of the Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare and other inputs.
Youth At Risk
- Building on the successes of the 2012 Ontario Youth Action Plan (OYAP), we released an enhanced OYAP in the 2015 Budget. The OYAP addresses the root causes of youth violence by providing targeted supports to communities to respond to the needs of at-risk youth.
- The Premier’s Council on Youth Opportunities continues to play a vital role in informing and shaping our work.
- We have supported the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ work on Jobs for Youth and the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure’s continued focus on entrepreneurial opportunities for youth.
- We have engaged the private sector with the support of CivicAction to determine how we can improve access to jobs in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area for at-risk youth.
- We continue to build on the success of the Stop Now and Plan program to support positive reintegration of youth in conflict with the law.
- There is international interest in the work we are doing to promote the use of diversion, rehabilitation and reintegration for youth in, or at risk of, conflict with the law and to reduce custody. Ministry staff recently went to Jamaica to support their work in transforming their youth justice system to reduce recidivism and, ultimately, crime and violence. Ontario was also invited by the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) to join the December 2014 first meeting of a North American Council for Juvenile Justice (NACJJ) and hosted the second NACJJ meeting in Toronto in November 2015.
- Our success is in the numbers:
- A 46 per cent decline in the youth crime rate between 2003 and 2014
- An 81 per cent decline in custody admissions
- Savings reinvested in a service system that now has more than 400 community-based programs and services.
Aboriginal Children and Youth
- It has been a great privilege to work with Minister Zimmer to engage the leaders of Ontario’s First Nations, Métis, Inuit (FNMI) and urban Aboriginal communities to co-develop an Aboriginal Children and Youth Strategy aimed at improving outcomes for Aboriginal children and youth. An important component of our strategy implementation work is listening to the voice of FNMI youth through the Ontario First Nations Young People’s Council and the Feathers of Hope forums.
- The designation of two new Aboriginal-specific children’s aid societies is a concrete example of how our collaborative work is allowing communities to once again take charge of the needs of their children, youth and families.
- We are continuing the implementation of our Moving on Mental Health strategy. A key component of our work has been the identification of 28 of the 33 lead agencies in communities across the province that will lead the local work needed to integrate child and youth mental health services to make it easier for parents and youth to access the services they need.
- The ministry is represented on the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Mental Health Leadership Council, and work is now beginning to examine ways of improving access to and effectiveness of addiction services for youth.
- The third year of the Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy is underway in communities across the province.
Special Needs, FASD, Autism
- Together with the ministries of Education, Community and Social Services, and Health and Long-Term Care, we are implementing the Special Needs Strategy. Similar to our work on mental health, extensive community engagement is underway to create integrated rehabilitation services, and coordinated service planning for children and youth with more complex needs and case resolution mechanisms.
- A developmental screen is now being constructed to allow for early identification and intervention.
- My Parliamentary Assistant, Granville Anderson, has completed 25 community engagements across Ontario, including Aboriginal-specific roundtables on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). The input received during these community consultations is an important foundation for future work.
- The creation and release of the Autism Parent Resource Kit for families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has put an important resource in the hands of these families.
- Our Child and Parent Resource Institute (CPRI) clinicians have been invited to speak across Canada and internationally about evidence-based clinical programming and ministry research in areas including Tourette’s, psychotropic medication monitoring, attachment disturbances, sexual behaviour problems and sensory processing disorders.
- CPRI has also partnered with interRAI, an international collaborative of over 85 experts from 40 countries, to publish evidence-informed care planning supports. This builds on the 48 already published journal articles and 161 provincial, national and international conference presentations to date.
- In addition to participating in the Ministers’ Table on Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion, we increased the Ontario Child Benefit to $1,336 per child annually for eligible families this July, and indexed it to inflation.
- We expanded our Student Nutrition program to create 340 new programs in schools, including First Nation educational settings, to ensure that kids start their day ready to learn.
I have the pleasure of working with a dedicated and talented team of staff in the ministry. While we have achieved a great deal in this past year, we will continue to work hard to improve outcomes for children and youth into the future.
Minister of Children and Youth Services
|Mandate Letter Commitment||Progress to Date|
|Play a key role in ensuring that every child in Ontario has the best possible start in life. Your priority will be to work with your ministerial colleagues, so that every child and young person in Ontario has access to the right supports and opportunities needed to make positive choices, reach their full potential and seamlessly transition to adulthood.|
|In doing so, you will work within your ministry and with your colleagues to make sure the government’s child and youth programming is integrated and co-ordinated so as to provide a seamless continuum of service to young people and their families.|
|Continuing to work with children’s aid societies to lead the ongoing transformation of the child welfare system that helps improve opportunities and outcomes for children, and has the confidence of Ontario families and communities. You will work with community partners to help children in Ontario grow up healthy, happy and safe — and prepared to transition into adulthood and independence successfully and with confidence.|
|Co-ordinating collaborative cross-government actions that support young people in successfully transitioning to adulthood by supporting a co-ordinated range of community programs and services that are responsive to the strengths and needs of at-risk youth — including racialized youth, newcomer youth, Aboriginal youth, youth living in care, youth with mental health and addiction needs, and children and youth with special needs. Through Stepping Up: A Strategic Framework to Help Ontario’s Youth Succeed, you will continue to review and assess the effectiveness of current youth programs to ensure that the programs are maximizing positive outcomes for youth.|
|Supporting the availability of opportunities for Ontario’s youth by building on the successes of the Youth Action Plan and supporting communities that are addressing the root causes of violence.|
|Championing our collective efforts to address the root causes of youth alienation and violence by ensuring that we provide the right combination of supports and opportunities to make certain our youth have hope for the future. You will work with the ministers of the Attorney General and Community Safety and Correctional Services to take action to protect young people in their homes and communities from all forms of violence — including that which arises from the prevalence of handguns in our urban communities.|
|Continuing to support the Premier’s Council on Youth Opportunities to engage with youth, young professionals and community partners to provide advice to government to ensure that young people across the province have a voice in the services and supports they need to help them succeed.|
|Ensuring that First Nation, Métis, Inuit and Urban Aboriginal perspectives and cultures are considered as you develop programs and policies for children and youth.|
|Continuing to build stronger relationships and work with our First Nation, Inuit, Métis and Urban Aboriginal partners to improve opportunities and outcomes for children, youth and their families living in these communities.|
|Leading the launch and implementation of an Aboriginal Children and Youth Strategy to build community-driven, integrated and culturally appropriate services — including mental health and wellness, suicide prevention and life promotion, child welfare, early childhood supports, specialized services, rehabilitation services and youth justice services.|
|Sustaining the accomplishments of the first three years of Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy. You will also work with your partner ministers of Health and Long-Term Care, of Education, and of Training, Colleges and Universities to focus on monitoring the progress of Ontario’s comprehensive mental health and addictions strategy.|
|Continuing to transform the mental health system so children and youth — and their families — know where to go to receive services, regardless of where they live.|
|Implementing a provincewide Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative and continuing to reach underserved communities to improve access to mental health supports, including culturally appropriate programs and services for First Nation, Métis, Inuit and Urban Aboriginal children and youth.|
|Collaborating with the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care in exploring options on how to improve addictions programming for children and youth, based on evidence, as part of our government’s commitment to create healthy, resilient and inclusive communities.|
|Focusing on developing and implementing strategies that will improve the experience and outcomes for children and youth with complex and special needs, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).|
|Continuing to work with the Ministers of Education, of Health and Long-Term Care, and of Community and Social Services — and with families, youth and experts — to implement Ontario’s Special Needs Strategy. The strategy will address long-standing challenges facing families and service providers in the special needs community, including accessing information, navigating services and transitioning to adult services.|
|Developing and implementing initiatives focused on early identification, early intervention and responsive programs and services for families of children and youth with special needs.|
|Continuing to support the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy — working with the Ministers of Training, Colleges and Universities, and of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure — to do more to help youth connect with employers and get job placements that provide valuable experiences that develop talent and skills.|
|Collaborating with ministerial colleagues to support the integration of employment and training programs to optimize access to, and awareness of, our government’s youth employment programs, while recognizing the unique challenges faced by diverse and at-risk youth.|
|Reviewing and assessing the effectiveness of current funding that aims to help youth gain the necessary skills and experience to obtain stable employment. You will ensure that the review includes exploring options on how to sustain positive outcomes for youth employment.|
|Supporting the Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy in implementing a new Poverty Reduction Strategy. I ask that you build on the gains made under the first five years of the current strategy, and that you focus on initiatives that mitigate the effects of poverty for children and youth — and that reduce child poverty in our province.|