The Intersections program was initiated in Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) to improve access to mental health, addictions, and other services for children, youth and their families who are coming in contact with police due to non-criminal issues. Community leaders and staff from various service areas in health, mental health, addictions, developmental disabilities, education, justice as well as those serving needs of the rural, LGBTTTIQ, Francophone and First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and youth partnered together to work towards improving the mental health and well-being of children, youth and their families, and reducing further exposure to the justice system. The main goal of this partnership was to make existing services in mental health and addictions more widely available, and easy to access throughout KFL&A.
The Intersections program originated from the Champlain region and is currently in communities including Lanark, Leeds & Grenville, Ottawa, Prescott-Russell, Renfrew County and Stormant, Dundas, & Glengary. In these communities the program has shown great potential for improving service delivery and access, reducing crime, empowering children, youth and their families to seek help, improving the well-being of families and communities, and cultural connectedness and engagement.
In bringing Intersections to KFL&A, it was critical to identify the need for the Intersections program in KFL&A and to ensure that it did not duplicate any already existing programs or services provided to children and youth. The Provincial System Support Program (PSSP) implementation team at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) began the program development with a series of one-on-one meetings and key informant interviews determining that Intersections was welcomed and beneficial in KFL&A. It was crucial for CAMH to research and provide evidence using data supplied primarily by policing partners, and by service mapping to ensure a lack of service duplication. Cross-sectoral leadership agreed to work on early intervention and bring Intersections to KFL&A.
Youth Diversion along with many other children and youth serving agencies including policing and justice services were instrumental in creating the foundation needed to support the implementation of Intersections in KFL&A. Intersections was embedded into Youth Diversion’s services for young people who are justice-involved, or at-risk of becoming justice involved. The Intersections program is a fit with the already existing services at Youth Diversion that help youth overcome challenges.
The initial implementation of the Intersections program is being funded by the United Way of KFL&A for one year in order to make sure that it is the right fit for the needs of our community members. Youth Diversion is very proud to be hosting Intersections and are eager to see the impact that the United Way, police, and community partners can have with children, youth and families through KFL&A the Intersections program.
The initial work towards the KFL&A Intersections program actually began in 2011, when the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care released a strategy entitled, Open Minds, Healthy Minds: Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy. This ten-year strategy outlines how the mental health and addiction systems is changing to improve services for everyone in Ontario. The ministries who co-designed the ten-year strategy are the Ministry of the Attorney General; Ministry of Children and Youth Services; Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care; and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. These six provincial ministries are supporting the implementation of Intersections.
In KFL&A, agencies and partners will continue to work cross-sectorally across the Ministries supporting the ten-year strategy. We will build and develop stronger partnerships between community agencies and police services in order to prevent children and youth from coming into negative contact with police services, and to help children, youth and their families in accessing mental health and addictions support services locally.
The CAMH’s PSSP funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, is sponsoring this initiative and providing project support to implement Intersections in KFL&A.