Progress Report - October 2015
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Progress Report - October 2015

Lead Agency Newsletter Heading October's Issue

Vision for Waterloo Region’s Child and Youth Mental Health System

Children, youth and families get compassionate, quality mental health supports when and where they need them.

Dear Community Partner:

In June, we sent you our first Progress Update to introduce you to Lutherwood’s approach to executing the Ministry of Child and Youth Mental Health’s Moving on Mental Health plan for transforming Ontario’s Children’s Mental Health system.

Since then, the Lead Agency Advisory Council (Lutherwood and seven other core service delivery partners) has made some progress on its top three system priorities (Awareness, Access and Family Support) as identified in the Core Services Delivery Plan. We are pleased to offer you this second update to keep you informed of our progress.


In August and September, we held two very successful community partner information sessions that attracted 80 people from more than 50 agencies. We offered an overview of the Moving on Mental Health transformation, discussed our local approach and progress, and gathered feedback on our three Core Service Delivery priorities. We are very grateful to the many of you who participated and have summarized your thoughts, ideas and suggestions below.

1) Improving Awareness

Participants agreed that our system is confusing for users and service providers, children’s mental health is not well understood, and we need to de-stigmatize mental health. Suggestions included educating parents, service providers and people working with children and youth on what services are available in the community; developing consistent messaging; consistently branding the access point(s); and more effectively using social media, apps and websites to communicate information and access help. We were reminded of cultural and language barriers, the excellent but scattered information and tools (e.g. websites) that already exist, and the need for multiple methods of raising awareness of available information and the system.

2) Improving Access

There were differing views related to whether access should be a single point of entry versus multiple points of entry. However, there was a strong lean towards a more flexible, access system that is available 24/7 and able to meet the needs of both rural and urban children, youth and families. This system needs to be timely, flexible, able to meet diverse and cultural expectations and be “up-to-date’’ with multiple ways to access it. We were reminded of the need to manage waitlists and reduce wait times. The main message we received: keep all aspects related to improving access, child, youth and family focused and build a system that meets their needs (verses the needs of the system).

3) Improving Family Supports

Participants said it was important to closely monitor waitlists, develop creative ways to support youth and families through transitions, and provide supports to the unique needs of youth and families in underserviced and rural areas. Participants also asked that services and supports be flexible (e.g. expanded hours) in meeting family and youth needs, and be responsive to the realities of language, culture and diversity of lifestyles. We were reminded of the individual and systemic barriers (e.g. child care, poverty, housing, transportation) families and youth face when accessing and/or completing a service, and the need to view the family as a complex system. Finally, we were reminded to be responsive (rather than reactive) and when working with a young person and/or family, there must be a spirit of “teamwork” (not just isolated co-ordination, communication and planning activities between service providers).


In August, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services identified 11 more lead agencies bringing the total to 28 out of 33 service areas. We congratulate and welcome the Canadian Mental Health Association – Waterloo Wellington chapter as the lead agency for neighbouring Wellington County and Dufferin. As CMHA-WW learns more about their new lead agency role, we are looking forward to working more closely with them and eventually exploring opportunities to collaborate and enhance both our systems.

Next Steps

The Lead Agency Advisory Council is now finalizing its Priority Roadmap that sets out the recommendations and activities for its three priorities based in part on the feedback from the community partner information sessions. This will feed into a second Core Services Delivery Plan (focusing on child and youth mental health services) and Community Mental Health Plan (focusing on the interface with many other service providers that support children and youth) to be submitted to MCYS in the coming months.

Thank You

Thank you to all of your for your interest and of this important community work. We hope this update is helpful and if you have any suggestions or questions about our lead agency work, please contact Randy Penney, Director, Lead Agency, at or 519-884-1470 ext. 1221.