Children’s service providers from organizations across Hastings and Prince Edward Counties have been meeting in one form or another since before 1987. Throughout the years, relationships have developed and strengthened, and improvements to the children’s services system have been achieved. In fact, many of the representatives from the early days sit on the planning table that exists today.
In 1987, the Ministry of Community and Social Services allocated additional resources of about $350,000 to the children’s services system. The Hastings & Prince Edward Children’s Services Group successfully dispersed these funds based on proposals that were submitted.
In 2000, the Children’s Services Group acted as the Children’s Mental Health Restructuring Committee, and assisted with the amalgamation of 18 children’s mental health agencies into four agencies across the southeast region. Children’s Mental Health Services was created as a result of this process.
In 2003, in response to the large number of priorities identified by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS), children’s services planning tables were being created by Kingston area office across five zones in the southeast region under the leadership of Consolidated Municipal Service Managers (CMSMs) to help build community capacity and enhance service integration across demographics and service sectors. These became Best Start Networks. A separate Prince Edward table operated in collaboration with Lennox & Addington County until it was disbanded in 2006, after which Prince Edward organizations joined the Hastings table and Lennox & Addington joined Kingston/ Frontenac.
A strategic planning session of community stakeholders was held in February 2007 to restructure and align the Hastings & Prince Edward Children’s Services Group with MCYS priorities; i.e., Best Start, Child Welfare Transformation, Child and Youth Mental Health, Opportunities for Youth, etc., and respond more effectively to the barriers, gaps and duplication of services that existed across Hastings-Prince Edward.
A vision, mandate and structure were developed, and the new Children’s Services Network (CSN) became the community planning table for Hastings-Prince Edward.
Within the new structure, a Core Integration Team and six integration teams were established to address the following priorities:
- Access to Residential and Respite; later renamed ASD Respite Options
- Case Resolution
- Family Issues
- Integration with Education
- Prenatal to Six (Best Start)
The first official meeting of the Core Integration Team was held in September 2007. Criteria for membership included a broader range of community partners and sectors, covering each geographic community and engaging Aboriginal and Francophone populations. Projects and successes included:
- ABC Childhood Screening and Information Fairs
- Babies and Beyond for Teen Parents
- Best Start Hubs for Early Learning and Care
- Checkered Flags Mental Health Resource Guide
- CHEO Evaluation Capacity Building Project 2009/2010
- Community Profile 2007 and 2010 (Southeast Data Consortium)
- Enhanced 18-month Well-Being Referral Map
- Full Service Meeting on October 6, 2008
- Protocol between Adult and Children’s Services
- Red Cards for Youth – six editions
- Strategic Planning Session on November 4, 2010
- Triple P – Positive Parenting Program
Finally, through the 2011/2012 Community Action Research Project (CARP), members recognized that it was time to re-assess the purpose and priorities of the Network. The CARP process led to the renaming of the Children’s Services Network (CSN) to the Children and Youth Services Network (CYSN), the introduction of a new logo in January 2012, and resulted in an entire new vision, mission and structure.
Case Resolution and ASD Respite Options now operate outside of the CYSN structure, with support from CYSN member organizations. Prenatal to Six (Best Start), Youth, Family Issues, and Integration with Education are now the responsibility of the larger Network. The reasons behind this decision were:
- Planning for children, youth and their families would become more cohesive.
- Network members would become more knowledgeable about the “bigger picture”.
- The current 7-12 year gap would be filled.
- Planning would include representation from all sectors; i.e., community services, education, health, etc.
- Transition planning would become easier.
- All age groups would be taken into consideration when identifying key indicators for our community report card.
- Outcomes and evaluation of “well-being” would be addressed as a community.
In 2015, the Hastings & Prince Edward Children and Youth Services Network has a membership of 55 organizations. Current goals and priorities are:
- Shared planning for services.
- Improved access to healthy food by children, youth and families.
- Improved early childhood development outcomes for children 0-6 years.
- Accessible service pathways and community (family) engagement.
- Monitoring community indicators and creating a data repository.
- Clear communication/messaging throughout the Network, with and between organizations and the community.
- Effective and efficient sharing of resources.
- Network self-assessment.