January 11, 2016

The Honourable Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A1

Dear Premier:

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.

Child Welfare

  • 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.

Mental Health

  • 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.

Child Poverty

  • 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.

Sincerely,

Tracy MacCharles signature

Tracy MacCharles
Minister of Children and Youth Services

Results achieved

Mandate Letter CommitmentProgress 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.
  • The Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) provides $205.4 million towards healthy child development programs that help children get the best possible start in life.
  • Since the 2014-15 school year, over 340 new breakfast programs in higher needs schools were supported, and an additional $6.9 million was allocated to the Preschool Speech and Language Program, helping as many as over 10,000 more children across the province.
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.
  • Through the Special Needs Strategy, MCYS is working with ministry partners to implement coordinated service planning across sectors for children with multiple and/or complex special needs, and integrate the delivery of children’s rehabilitation services, so children and youth will experience service delivery as a single, seamless program from birth to when they leave school.
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.
  • Working with community partners, Ontario is expanding programs and supports to improve outcomes for children and youth in care by helping more young people in care find permanent homes, graduate high school and transition successfully to adulthood.
  • To enhance child welfare system accountability, Ontario has begun publicly reporting provincial-level aggregate data on Children’s Aid Society (CAS) performance in key areas.
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.
  • Coordinated three ministries' efforts for transition planning for young people with developmental disabilities preparing for adulthood.
  • Launching three supported employment demonstrations for young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
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.
  • On June 26, 2015, Ontario announced its investment of $55 million over three years for an enhanced Ontario Youth Action Plan (OYAP).
  • Community Information Sessions were held in summer 2015 to provide details to potential service providers and the youth-serving sector.
  • Establishment of contracts for new programs is well underway. Staged launches are expected to begin in 2016.
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.
  • The selection of programs/services in the enhanced OYAP have been targeted based on evidence regarding the root causes of youth violence.
  • Some of these programs include gang prevention/intervention, Newcomer Youth Settlement, and Restorative justice and conflict mediation.
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.
  • Ministries consulted the Premier’s Council on Youth Opportunities (PCYO) on Moving Ontario Forward (Ministry of Transportation), Street Check (Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services), Culture Strategy (Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities) and Youth Labs (Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing/Treasury Board Secretariat).
  • PCYO initiated the Listening Tour to amplify the advice of youth to government.
  • Recruitment process began in September 2015.
Ensuring that First Nation, Métis, Inuit and Urban Aboriginal perspectives and cultures are considered as you develop programs and policies for children and youth.
  • Supports to Political Territorial Organizations, Tribal Councils and Band Councils to develop new student nutrition program models.
  • Engage First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Urban Aboriginal communities on how to improve the Child and Family Services Act to better meet their needs.
  • Working with Aboriginal partners on a culturally appropriate home study tool and cultural awareness training module for CAS staff.
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.
  • By 2016-17, investing more than $4 million to expand the Student Nutrition Program in First Nations, Tribal Councils and other organizations to phase in over 120 student nutrition programs in educational settings.
  • The Aboriginal Children and Youth Strategy received unanimous endorsement from First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Aboriginal partners.
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.
  • The ministry is moving to implement the Aboriginal Children and Youth Strategy.
  • The strategy aligns with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls To Action.
  • The ministry will co-implement the strategy in partnership with Indigenous organizations/communities and work on a government/holistic approach to services for children, youth and families.
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.
  • Key performance indicators have been identified for child and youth mental health and have been reported, beginning in 2014-15.
  • Collaborated with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care on the Mental Health Leadership Council.
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.
  • MCYS has identified 28 lead agencies for child and youth mental health, with more to come in 2016.
  • MCYS has defined a set of core child and youth mental health services through program guidelines and requirements.
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.
  • MCYS has provided $1.75 million in funding to support local and targeted First Nation, Métis and Inuit initiatives.
  • Held six mobilization forums across the province to provide education and training on youth suicide prevention, including the first Aboriginal-targeted youth life promotion forum.
  • Year three of the youth suicide prevention plan has been approved.
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.
  • The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Leadership Council includes a working group on Youth Addictions. Secretariat support for this working group has been transferred to MCYS.
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).
  • 25 roundtables on FASD, Parliamentary Assistant’s report released in September 2015.
  • Call for Applications - early identification pilots for children/youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • Implemented outcome measurement tools for Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA).
  • Increased ABA services funding.
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.
  • Service providers across sectors, including education, children’s services, health and community services, worked together in 34 service delivery areas across the province to develop local proposals for the implementation of coordinated service planning (CSP) and the integrated delivery of rehabilitation services (IR).
  • Implementation of CSP began in late fall 2015, and implementation of IR will begin in spring 2016.
Developing and implementing initiatives focused on early identification, early intervention and responsive programs and services for families of children and youth with special needs.
  • Developing a standard screening process at the preschool stage, enabling parents to access screening in their communities.
  • The Healthy Babies, Healthy Children program continues to partner with hospitals, midwives and primary care services to provide screening.
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.
  • The MCYS Jobs for Youth budget will transferring to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) under the Employment Training Services Integration program (ETSI) for its new youth employment program Youth Job Connection that:
    • provides paid pre-employment training, job opportunities wrap around supports to at-risk youth.
    • focuses on youth barriers including poverty, homelessness, disability and mental health issues.
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.
  • The MCYS Jobs for Youth budget is transferring to MTCU under Employment Training Services Integration (ETSI) for its new youth employment program, Youth Job Connection, that:
    • provides paid pre-employment training, job opportunities wrap around supports to at-risk youth.
    • focuses on youth aged 15-29 who are youth not in education, employment or training and/or face complex barriers to employment, including racialized, Aboriginal, newcomer, criminalized, in or leaving care, other Stepping Up populations.
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.
  • Through Employment Training Services Integration (ETSI) - Youth Job Connection and the Private Sector Jobs and Mentoring Initiative, MCYS continues to gather and mobilize best practices related to 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.
  • Through the Poverty Reduction Strategy, which supports the implementation of over 340 new breakfast programs in higher-needs schools, serving approximately 56,000 more children and youth.
  • Enhanced supports for existing programs, including funding to support local community development and capacity building in local program sites.
  • Worked with the Ministry of Finance to implement indexing of the Ontario Child Benefit.