There’s no one more qualified to tell us what children, young people, families and communities in Ontario need than these very groups. Quality engagement isn’t just about listening to — and amplifying — their voices. It’s also about ensuring they have an active role in service planning at the organizational and system levels.

Why engagement matters

Mental health and addictions service providers can better respond to the needs of children, young people and families when people and communities are meaningfully engaged. Embedding these voices into system initiatives enhances access to services, increases community awareness and helps reduce stigma around child and youth mental health and addictions. It also improves infrastructure and services, which makes the system itself more sustainable.

Focusing on youth and family engagement

To help our sector practise consistent, high-quality youth and family engagement, we developed quality standards:

Setting and implementing quality standards

In 2018 we partnered with young people, families, clinicians and researchers from all over Ontario to co-develop quality standards for youth and family engagement. We also developed a coaching program to support organizations and communities through their implementation journey. Get in touch today to get connected with one of our engagement specialists, who can help with everything from conducting and interpreting measurement surveys to action planning for youth and family engagement within your organization or community.

What do we mean by “system-level engagement”?

Ontario's child and youth mental health and addictions system is complex. It’s made up of many service providers and organizations from different sectors, all delivering services. The system also includes the networks and care pathways that connect the various providers and care settings, as well as the governments and other institutions that make policies and provide resources.

Young people and families are key stakeholders within this system. Engagement at the system level is focused on improvements that affect the overarching networks, pathways, policies and resources, in addition to improvements within individual organizations.

Visit our care pathways page to better understand what care pathways are and how they help.

What is a quality standard?

A quality standard consists of several principles that describe what the evidence says “high quality” looks like. It includes best practices and indicators to show progress and the impact of implementing those practices. Quality standards are a complement to accreditation standards and clinical practice guidelines from professional bodies.

Why do we need quality standards on youth and family engagement?

More and more agencies are working on youth and family engagement, so we need a shared understanding or a consistent set of practices to reflect what this looks like, especially at the system level. A quality standard is essential to a system that is accountable and constantly improving. It's also crucial to ensuring that Ontario children, young people and families receive high-quality mental health and addictions services wherever they are within the province.