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The Provincial Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health at CHEO



January 2008

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A New Year: Our Ongoing Commitment to You

The lessons we have learned over these early years of our mandate stem not only from evidence but also from speaking with and listening to great numbers of people in Ontario and beyond about the full spectrum of issues related to child and youth mental health. Accordingly, many of the Centre’s activities over last year are characterized, in a word, by responsiveness. We are further honing our activities in 2008 by focusing our efforts on mobilizing knowledge and changing behaviour. We have recommitted ourselves to enhancing our existing partnerships and networks and to building new ones - provincially, nationally and internationally.

The Centre’s responsiveness is particularly evident in the redevelopment of the grants and awards program. Service-providing agencies and the communities in which they function are diverse. This is one of the strengths of the system we are striving to build for children, youth, their parents and caregivers. To meet these differing needs, we have taken our former program evaluation grants and made them more relevant to the range of agencies providing services – to reap the maximum benefit for everyone. We have also responded to stakeholder values by adding a community mobilization award, which is currently in a pilot stage. This award was specifically designed to mobilize expertise within Ontario communities in efforts to address child and youth mental health issues.

A shift towards more active knowledge mobilization means that the Centre is further expanding our knowledge exchange capacity and enhancing our activities in network and partnership building across the province and beyond. A focus on changing behaviour means that the Centre is continuously developing strategies, putting more resources in place and developing tools to enhance service provider knowledge and experience in the uptake of evidence-based and evidence-informed practice. This past year we were instrumental in developing a community of practice around Triple P®, Positive Parenting Program. This newly developed network is one that we see as particularly effective at bringing like-minded service providers together to improve how they work with children and youth, their parents and caregivers. The community of practice model is one the Centre will continue to evaluate; further plans are in place to facilitate such networks in other areas of service delivery.

Building and contributing to partnerships has been a cornerstone of the Centre’s activities since day one. In 2007-2008, the Centre facilitated some newer provincial partnerships, like the Network for Mental Health Information and The New Mentality pilot project, which have ramped up and are now developing Ontario-made resources. The Med Ed program, a partnership between the Centre and Dalhousie University, was originally conceptualized in response to a traumatic psychotropic medication event that occurred in Ontario. The resulting educational resource for children, youth, their parents and caregivers has subsequently sparked widespread interest and is quickly becoming associated with national and international partnerships. Also at the national level, the Centre’s involvement with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the National Infant, Child and Youth Mental Health Consortium are ever evolving. Internationally we are partnering with Research in Practice (UK) and with the International Initiative on Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL), which share international best practices, and experiences in mental health care delivery and evidence-based practice.

The momentum built by the many conversations between key child and youth mental health stakeholders in Ontario has grown over the last few years. We have played a key role in facilitating this activity. We are seeing parallel progress at the national level as the same types of dialogues are entertained. It is obvious to us that the interest and drive for a cohesive child and youth mental health system is gaining strength. We have the privilege of being a part of this movement – working with a wide range of people and organizations whose efforts extend into the lives of children and youth. Ultimately, we believe that a fully integrated system meeting the mental health needs of children and youth is achievable and we continue to work with other leaders in the field to secure the foundations to make it happen.

Later this year, we look forward to a formal evaluation of the innovative work we have completed in just three years of operation. This is your Centre. We sincerely hope you actively participate in sharing your perspective on the value the Centre has brought to you and the evolving child and youth mental health system in Ontario.

Dr. Simon Davidson, M.B., B.Ch., F.R.C.P.(C)                          Dr. Ian Manion, Ph.D., C.Psych.
Executive Director, Planning and Development                       Executive Director, Operations

Do you have a topic to suggest for Focal Point? Send it to

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Community Mobilization Awards

Beginning this month, the Centre is piloting an exciting new funding opportunity called Community Mobilization Awards. The grant aims to help cross-sectoral partners in motivated communities join forces to address a pressing child and youth mental health issue. Armed with both financial and consulting support from the Centre, three diverse Ontario communities are now in the process of developing locally sustainable plans to address issues such as youth suicide, discrimination and critical incident response. Watch for updates on their progress in future editions of CHECKPOINT.

New Evaluation Grants in 2008-2009

The Centre has developed two new grants that will replace the former program evaluation grants in order to better meet the needs of child and youth mental health service provider agencies in Ontario. Evaluation grants have been among our most popular offerings, providing a strong foundation for evidence-based practice. In response to what we have observed over the last two years, we have fine-tuned our grants to take into account the variety and experience of service providers.

Evaluation Capacity Building Grant

Evaluation Capacity Building Grants, valued at $10,000 each, enhance collaboration and provide additional time and resources to develop an effective program evaluation framework. Over the seven-month term of the grant, the Centre will provide the support and direction to service organizations to help them develop a set of customized program evaluation tools including a program logic model and an outcomes, indicators and measures chart.

Evaluation Implementation Grant

Evaluation Implementation Grants, valued at $30,000 each, support organizations who have clearly demonstrated an organizational knowledge, skill and capacity in program evaluation. They enhance collaborative practice and provide additional time and resources necessary to fully implement the evaluation of an existing program relevant to child and youth mental health. Following a 12-month award term, organizations will have analyzed their data and will be in a position to disseminate outcomes with others in their organization, community and beyond.

Please note : Prior to application, those interested in applying for either grant must consult with the Centre’s research associate in program evaluation, Susan Kasprzak at

See the Centre’s website at for more information.


Upcoming deadlines for the grants and awards program …

  • Undergraduate / Summer Studentship Awards - EXTENDED to February 1, 2008
  • Evaluation Capacity Building Grants - June 1, 2008
  • Evaluation Implementation Grants - June 1, 2008
  • Dare to Dream Program - March 31, 2008
  • Expertise Mobilization Awards - July 2, 2008
  • Individual and Group Professional Development Awards - Submit anytime (Open)

For more information on 2008 grants and awards, please visit our Web site at

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Engaging Young People in Mental Health


Youth engagement is about empowering all youth as valued partners in addressing, and making decisions about, issues that affect them personally and/or that they believe to be important.

There is little doubt that youth engagement is essential within the child and youth mental health sector. Engaged youth not only bring their energy, creativity and enthusiasm to mental health initiatives, but also experience mental health benefits from being involved. The practice of youth engagement is relatively new, and shifting an organization’s culture from working with youth as clients to working with youth as partners, can be daunting.

In January 2007 the Centre and Children’s Mental Health Ontario launched The New Mentality – a joint youth engagement pilot initiative. The goal of this project is to develop a provincial network of youth to promote public awareness of mental health issues and to advocate for a system that best meets the mental health needs of children and youth. Based on a youth/adult partnership model, The New Mentality also seeks to foster meaningful engagement opportunities for young people and, ultimately, to serve as a model for Ontario mental health organizations.

As part of this project, The New Mentality team conducted a literature review and interviews with service organizations across the province to determine what the evidence has to say about youth engagement and to pinpoint how this theory is being applied in the field. The resulting publication, READY… SET… ENGAGE!, summarizes what they discovered as a guide for mental health professionals and others about effective youth engagement practices.

Although there is no one magic formula, there are a number of essential elements that must be in place to successfully bring youth on board:


Meaningful Engagement

Engagement is meaningful to the organization and to the individuals who are involved – young and old alike.

Beyond Programming

Youth engagement is not just another fancy term or a program or an action – it is a way of operating.

Organizational Commitment

There is significant organizational buy-in at all levels.

Valuing Youth

Adults embrace youth as today’s assets and not just tomorrow’s leaders.

Youth-Adult Partnerships

All persons – regardless of age – have a voice and are supported and recognized.

Realistic Expectations

Opportunities are provided for youth to develop leadership skills by establishing realistic goals, timelines, and expectations.

Even well-intentioned organizations can sometimes slip into negative youth engagement practices, where youth are present but uninvolved in any meaningful way. Mis-engaging youth can lead to disengagement and lost opportunities down the road, so a thoughtful, proactive approach is needed.

To support this proactive approach, READY… SET… ENGAGE! brings forward best practices for engaging youth and building effective youth-adult partnerships. It looks at ways to support young people as decision makers, provides organizational-assessment tools, and outlines the concrete steps needed to initiate and sustain meaningful youth involvement. The tools, strategies and findings highlighted in this resource will provide mental health professionals and others with practical and proven resources to learn from – and draw on – as they venture through the youth engagement process.

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Judy Finlay

The Centre Welcomes Judy Finlay

Judy Finlay, formerly Ontario’s Child Advocate, recently joined the Centre as a key consultant in facilitating the development of our work plan with the many First Nations communities and interests across Ontario. She will undertake this effort on a part-time basis as she is also sharing her wisdom and knowledge as an associate professor in the School of Child and Youth Care at Ryerson University.

In her 16 years as Child Advocate, Judy engaged and partnered with many First Nations peoples in the North. As a key founder and current co-chair of the North-South Partnership (Mamow Sha-way-gi-kay-win), she championed a respectful and consultative approach, forging genuine partnerships for improvements in a number of northern communities. Judy will bring this experience to her work with the Centre and will extend the process across the diverse interests and concerns of many First Nations peoples.

Judy is a champion for the issues and the rights of children and youth. She has worked for more than three decades in the areas of child welfare and children's mental health. She began her career with the Children's Aid Society as a group home operator and was a co-founder of the Women's Community House, a transition house for women and children in London. She was a member of a family consultant service with a community police force and was the clinical director for the Regional Children's Centre in the far north. Judy taught in the Social Work Faculty at Curtin University in Western Australia and was the director of a children's mental health centre in Eastern Ontario.

The Centre is very pleased to have Judy working with us. You can contact Judy at

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The Centre is co-hosting a Child and Youth Mental Health Showcase
geared to front-line service providers.

More information will be distributed soon but we hope you start planning now
to join us in Mississauga on May 9.

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