The Community Action Research Project (CARP) was the catalyst behind the 2012 restructure of the Children and Youth Services Network. In September 2011, Hastings/Prince Edward was one of four communities chosen by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to participate in an action research project aimed at determining how community service agencies can work together towards integrated services for children, youth and families in Ontario. Each of the four communities received $200,000.
Network members worked together and with the community to look at access, referral and delivery of services across our system through five activities:
- Complete a functional analysis of current community services.
- Map an ideal service pathway, with ideal defined as streamlined, effective and seamless from the family’s perspective.
- Identify natural entry points across the community service sector.
- Develop and employ a common core data intake process across service providers and sectors that would be the minimum information collected by all providers at intake.
- Develop a plan to align community resources with the ideal service system and service pathways.
Led by a project committee and facilitated by a project research team, highlights of the research included:
- Focus groups and brainstorming exercises and workshops were conducted with the Core Integration Team and members of the six integration teams.
- Surveys were developed for four stakeholder groups: youth, family members, service providers and municipal councilors. Surveys were available online and in hardcopy form at participating agencies. A total of 1614 responses were received.
- Community liaisons were asked to visit shopping areas, arenas, etc. and gather surveys from people who lived in each geographic community.
- Both English school boards (ALCDSB and HPEDSB) allowed us to distribute youth surveys to Grade 10 Civics and Careers classes.
- Twenty-three focus groups were conducted with youth, family members, and service providers across Hastings and Prince Edward Counties.
Details of what we learned from our community about access to programs and services are summarized in the Community Action Research Project Research Highlights March 29, 2012.
A community service provider retreat, attended by more than 50 Executive Directors, senior managers and front-line staff, was held at the Travelodge in Belleville on April 3, 2012 to gather input on the development of a service pathway that would improve community access to services, and support “no wrong door” and “warm- hand-off” approaches to service delivery.
A Core Integration Team retreat was held on April 17, 2012, also at the Travelodge, to discuss community input from the April 3 retreat, and hear recommendations from the various working groups. Priorities were developed and community champions were identified for each one:
- Review purpose, structure and scope of the Children and Youth Services Network.
- Refine service pathway.
- Develop engagement and training plan for providers in No Wrong Door/Warm Hand-off.
- Support and help promote information systems; i.e., 211, VIQ e-portal, 310-OPEN.
- Measure community well-being and Network activities through evaluation mechanisms.
- Identify opportunities for sharing of assets/resources and make available to members.
Details of what came out of these retreats are included in the Community Action Research Project Final Report May 4, 2012.
A Restructuring Working Group was tasked with developing a new Network structure, based on this CARP research. A new structure and recommendations on membership, governance, communication and transition received Core approval in June 2012. After several summer meetings, this eight-member Working Group presented a revised Terms of Reference to the Core Integration team and received approval in October. Following a carefully laid out transition plan, an orientation meeting, attended by 51 individuals, representing 36 organizations, was held at Maranatha Church in Belleville on October 25, 2012. At that time, organizations were given the opportunity to sign up for teams and committees. The first official meeting of the newly restructured Children and Youth Services Network was held on November 22, 2012.