Journey to Zero Program co-designed by Children's Aid Foundation of Canada and Children's Aid Society of Toronto
TORONTO, Nov. 20, 2019 /CNW/ - Journey to Zero Program, a new early intervention program aimed at strengthening families and keeping children and youth at home and in their communities is being launched today in Toronto by national charity Children's Aid Foundation of Canada and Children's Aid Society of Toronto.
The $7.3 million demonstration project is a result of a unique public private partnership between private philanthropy, child welfare leaders and community-based experts who have a shared vision of improving outcomes for our most vulnerable children, youth and families. Children and youth in care of the child welfare system experience poor levels of academic achievement, employment and health compared to their peers, and higher levels of homelessness, criminal activity, teen pregnancies and human trafficking.
"Through the support of like-minded philanthropists and child welfare experts, we are investing in an innovative approach that can bring positive change for families, children and youth who are struggling in our community," says Valerie McMurtry, president and CEO, Children's Aid Foundation of Canada, the country's leading charity devoted to improving the lives of children and youth in the child welfare system.. "We want to achieve better outcomes for at-risk families and lay the groundwork for permanent change in the child welfare sector."
Co-designed by Children's Aid Foundation of Canada and Children's Aid Society of Toronto, Journey to Zero will provide customized supports and resources through a series of early interventions that will strengthen families and allow children and youth to stay at home and in their communities and prevent them from growing up in the care of the child welfare system.
"Journey to Zero stems from our desire to build strong partnerships with the families we serve and to support them to create a safe and nurturing environment for their children and youth," says Paul Rosebush, CEO, Children's Aid Society of Toronto.
The early intervention approach is based on similar models adopted in New Zealand and the United States that have proven to be successful. The program also signals a desired shift to focus on improving perceptions of child welfare agencies as a valuable community resource, allowing for healthier and more productive partnerships between families and child welfare agencies.
"We are proud to support this innovative approach to strengthening families and communities", says the Honourable Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues. "Ontario's children and youth deserve the very best care and support we can provide. We need to build a system that is focused on early intervention and prevention. Programs like Journey to Zero will be key in making that vision a reality as we bring transformational change to Ontario's child welfare system."
The Journey to Zero Program consists of four independent interventions that will be implemented by Children's Aid Society of Toronto. The program will target neighbourhoods with high rates of interaction with Children's Aid Society of Toronto, and will focus on the child and youth cohorts most at risk through:
Early Response Family Group Conferencing – Working in partnership with George Hull Centre, families will be paired with a dedicated coordinator and facilitator who will identify and recruit family members for a family group conference. The group will address problems and build a shared response and plan to ensure the safety of the child within their home community or extended family.
Intensive In-Home Supports for Adolescents – Working in partnership with Youth Link, families can access a youth outreach worker to develop individualized plans and identify wraparound services to keep youth safe at home with family/kin and allow them to live in their community.
Multi-Disciplinary Early Engagement Teams – Aimed to provide a timely and customized response, families with children under the age of 6 and youth age 12 to 17 (the two largest age groups that come into care) will work with an intake worker who will access community resources specialists to help address some of the issues families are facing, such as mental health, addiction, sex-trafficking or domestic violence.
Kin Intensive Support Services – A team comprised of a kin searcher, assessor and a service support worker will help find homes for children or youth with their kin or kith and create a family and community-based plan.
The four-year program is a partnership between Children's Aid Foundation of Canada and their donors, including a leadership gift from Balsam Foundation and support from The Rossy Foundation, The McConnell Foundation, The McLean Foundation and Louisa Huband and Craig Moffat; and the Children's Aid Society of Toronto along with its Child Welfare Institute, who is leading the evaluation component of this innovative initiative. This program is supported by Ontario's Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services who will be reviewing the outcomes to assess whether this kind of work should be replicated across the province.
About Children's Aid Foundation of Canada Children's Aid Foundation of Canada is our country's leading charity dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth growing up in the child welfare system. We raise and grant funds, and deliver a wide range of high-impact programs and services in partnership with 74 child-and youth-serving agency partners that support more than 22,200 vulnerable young people and 3,500 families annually. Stand Up for Kids is our national campaign for child welfare, which aims to change the futures of Canada's most at-risk kids – those who have experienced abuse and neglect. We know that by helping these young people to overcome their trauma and break the cycle for future generations, they gain the strength and resilience to create a lifetime of their own unstoppable successes.
About Toronto Children's Aid Society At the Children's Aid Society of Toronto we work with children, youth and families with diverse cultural backgrounds in Toronto. Our vision is a city where children are safe, families are strong and communities are supported. Our mission is to lead with excellence and work in partnership to prevent situations that lead to child abuse and neglect by embracing, strengthening and supporting families, and communities; protect children and youth from abuse, and neglect; provide safe and nurturing care for children and youth. We advocate to meet the needs of children, youth, families, and communities across Toronto.
SOURCE Children's Aid Foundation of Canada
For further information: Lisa Lipkin, Lisa Lipkin Communications for Children's Aid Foundation of Canada, [email protected], 416-988-4189; Alicia Pereira, Children's Aid Society of Toronto, [email protected], 416-924-4646 Ext. 2086