Many of the families we serve have experienced trauma or abuse, family breakdown, disruptive behaviours, learning disabilities complicated by mental health challenges (LDMH) and other issues that affect healthy childhood development. These children often experience conflict at school or in child care, difficulties with peers and family members and issues related to anger management, impulsivity and/or developmental difficulties.
The consequences for children and parents who do not receive adequate and appropriate treatment affect all of us. It is estimated that four out of five children who need help for mental health problems never receive it, and they can consequently suffer incidences of depression, school dropout, juvenile delinquency and substance abuse. Long-term implications that last into adulthood include illiteracy, violence, underemployment and future family breakdown.
We all have a role to play in creating better outcomes for children and youth in need. Our staff, volunteers, clients, donors, sector partners and community members are instrumental in ensuring we have the necessary resources and supports in place for children and youth at risk.
When all of the puzzle pieces come together, we are able to make lasting change in the lives of thousands of Toronto families. Thank you for all that you do to support CDI. You are such an important piece of the puzzle.
Child Development Institute’s mission is to promote and support the healthy development of children and to strengthen the families and communities in which they live.
Child Development Institute will continue to be recognized for innovation and excellence in child development services and research by collaborating and partnering with others who share our values.
Based on a 13-week child and parent group curriculum and additional SNAP components such as individual child, family and school support and community connections, SNAP is proven to be an effective means of teaching children emotion regulation and self-control that can positively change their future.
In 2015, the SNAP National Expansion Campaign made serious headway. Over the last year, the generosity of donors and private sector partners helped 10 additional communities adopt SNAP, with 35 sites in the planning phase.
With more than 30 per cent of the $12 million campaign goal raised to-date, CDI is well on-track to bring SNAP to 20,000 children and their families in 120 new communities across Canada.
SNAP keeps kids in school and out of trouble. Through the Campaign’s $12 million fundraising goal, CDI will provide SNAP to 20,000 children and their families and bring this evidence-based program to 120 new communities across Canada.
More Canadian children will be served through this leading evidencebased program, particularly in high-needs communities and schools. This has the potential to generate $3 billion in savings in criminal justice costs alone.
Produced in partnership with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and Chalkboard Media, Not So Social Media features interviews with youth who have experienced online bullying or sexting and have chosen to share their stories in the hopes of improving the way youth interact with each other online. These youth played an instrumental role in shaping the content of the documentary and developing the launch event so that it reflected their experiences and those of their generation.
“Many youth struggle to fit in and seek acceptance, sometimes in all the wrong ways,” says Abdi Mohamud, Coordinator of CDI’s Youth Leadership Services Program. “Research indicates that a significant portion of youth who spend more than two hours a day online tend to have poor mental health and suicidal thoughts. That is why initiatives like this are so vital,” he says. Along with the documentary screening, the event featured an exhibition of art pieces created by CDI Youth. “We transformed one of the main conduits of modern-day bullying—technology—into an installation that shines the light on the damage caused by the cruelty and intolerance we have experienced online,” says Tyler Pollock, head of art programming with the SNAP Youth Leadership Services Group.
A lively panel discussion followed the screening, which highlighted the negative impacts of cyberbullying and provided tips on how parents and educators can support youth who are being victimized online. Panel participants included several youth featured in the film, in addition to representatives from PREVNet, Canada’s leading authority on resources and research related to bullying; the Ontario Provincial Police and Think Don’t Shoot, a national non-profit organization that provides awardwinning programming and motivational presentations for at-risk youth.
This project is part of CDI’s larger mission to honour the voices and lived experiences of youth through a new Youth Engagement Program. A group of CDI s taff and youth have come together as part of the newly-formed Youth Engagement Steering Committee to review how the agency can better engage young people in sharing their voices and opinions about service-related issues.
CDI’s Youth Engagement Program strives to:
The Steering Committee has already made positive gains in shaping theway CDI approaches policy and program development, and the group will continue its positive impact in the coming year. Plans are in place to roll-out youth-focused activities largely shaped by the wisdom and expertise of the youth members on the Committee.
Engaging youth is critical to reducing the stigma of mental illness. Through the Youth Engagement Committee, we are creating opportunities for dialogue across generations and platforms, which is essential to removing barriers for those needing access to services or seeking important information about their health.
Respect for client and youth voices will improve our services and make them even more client-centered.
CDI’s Annex Early Learning Centre (ELC) is one of Child Development Institute’s five Toronto child care centres providing an inclusive early learning experience to more than 60 children between the ages of one month and 12 years.
In addition to providing daily child care to families living in the neighbourhood, the ELC works closely with a local women’s shelter to ensure families who have been displaced have access to child care in a safe, supportive, play-based environment.
“Stability and consistency are key for our families living in shelter,” says Michelle Strople, Director of the Annex Early Learning Centre. “These families are going through a challenging time, and our team helps ease the transition by providing a routine for the children. They receive regular meals, see familiar faces and build bonds with people they can trust—all of which go a long way towards helping a family adjust to their new circumstances.”
Each of CDI’s Early Learning Centres strive to build links with their local community in order to connect families and children to neighbourhood resources that will develop and expand their social network.
“We have really relied on Child Development Institute,” says Cecilia*, manager of the nearby shelter. “I see the children in shelter who attend the Annex Early Learning Centre start to come out of their shells. They get a chance to learn, explore and interact with others in a safe and secure environment, which has a significant impact on their coping abilities during this challenging time,” she says.
CDI’s inclusive program promotes child development by encouraging children to become actively involved in their environment. Individual and group activities are designed to foster development in language, literacy and social/emotional competency in addition to enhancing the child’s cognitive and motor skills.
*Some names have been changed in this story to protect identities.
“We become very attached to the families at the Centre, and they feel that close bond as well. In many cases, families end up moving to the opposite end of town after they leave the shelter, yet they will travel great distances every day to continue to send their children to our Centre because it’s where their children feel safe and supported.”
– Michelle Strople, Director of the Annex Early Learning Centre
Child Development Institute operates five Early Learning Centres across the City of Toronto, all of which offer a variety of programs and services for parents, caregivers and children under the age of 12.
Through a play-based learning approach, CDI’s Early Learning Centres help children build a strong foundation of intellectual, social and emotional skills they will rely on throughout their lives.
Through funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, five new community-based projects across the country are receiving a total investment of more than $7.3 million over five years. The CDI-led project, Safe and Understood, is receiving a federal investment of $1,569,225 over five years.
The project is delivering and testing two programs that promote the social, emotional and developmental health of young children:
“ Studies of childhood adversity have concluded that a strong relationship between a child and their primary caregiver—usually their mother—can mitigate the negative impacts of the trauma they experienced.”
– Dr. Angelique Jenney, Director of Family Violence Services, Child Development Institute
The Safe and Understood project, led by CDI, will reach over 300 families in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.
More children at high risk in family violence situations will be reached, and their social, emotional and developmental health will be improved. In addition, the depth of clinical research will increase, and this is expected to deepen our understanding and improve further outcomes.
Child Development Institute is the only accredited children’s mental health centre in Canada specializing in the treatment of children, youth and their families who are dealing with mental health issues complicated by learning disabilities (LDMH). Through our Integra Program, we deliver innovative, evidence-informed, therapeutic programs and services to help meet the needs of this vulnerable group.
Learning happens everywhere: at home, with friends, in extracurricular activities, etc., and as a result, LDMH can affect youth and their families in many aspects of their lives.
Demand for the specialized programs and services delivered by CDI’s Integra Program is great, and earlier this year, the waitlist for intake into the program grew to an all-time high of 189 families.
The Integra team quickly pulled together to develop an innovative solution to intake that not only simplified the process for both staff and clients but also significantly reduced wait times:
This new system has resulted in a dramatic decrease to Integra’s waitlist and a reduction in wait times for initial service, meaning more families are receiving the help they need when they need it.
Within three months of launching the new intake process, the Integra Program decreased the number of clients on the waitlist from 189 to 117. A family’s wait time for initial service decreased from 14 months to nine months.
“We work together with each child, youth and family to help them improve their mental health and well-being, develop and implement effective coping skills, and support family communication, problem-solving and understanding.”
– Dr. Marjory Phillips, Director of the Integra Program
Children and youth, through no fault of their own, face complex barriers that may affect their mental health. Trauma, family violence, behavioural disorders and learning disabilities complicated by mental health issues (LDMH) are some of the many challenges children and youth are currently experiencing. While these challenges may not be visible to the outside eye, they can have a profound impact on a child’s life, affecting their relationships at home, at school and within their community.
At Child Development Institute, we deliver programs and services to over 3,000 children, youth and their families each year, helping to treat the invisible disabilities children and youth are experiencing.
Our programs deliver proven results that make a difference for children and youth who might otherwise fall through the cracks in our health, education, child welfare and justice systems.
We receive referrals primarily from schools, parents and community agencies, including shelters and child protection agencies.
The majority of our programs and services are available to children and families free of charge thanks to support from three levels of government, United Way Toronto & York Region, foundations, corporations and individual donors.
^ Mckenzie Ottereyes-Eagle of Waswanipi First Nation, along with Angel Armstrong, ’Flying Eagle Star Child’ and Desiree Sands of Nipissing First Nation welcomed the SNAP Youth Justice team with dancing. This illustration is based on photos taken during their visit.
This first meeting, complete with a feast, singing, drumming and dancing was highlighted by local youth talent and traditional Indigenous customs. After this incredibly warm welcome, the SNAP YJ team is convinced: there is no better way to begin a relationship than by sharing a good meal and a song.
Building upon a solid foundation of youth engagement and community consultations in developing the SNAP YJ program, the SNAP YJ team met with Indigenous communities to take the first steps in establishing a relationship focused on improving the lives of at-risk youth within their unique Indigenous context. SNAP YJ is currently working closely with the Niigan youth mentor community, Elders, Indigenous consultants, North Bay Urban Aboriginal Strategy partners and the North Bay Police Service to share knowledge and learnings from diverse stakeholders.
“Community engagement and relationships are important to organizations that work together to build vibrant and healthy communities,” says Scott Todd, Deputy Chief of the North Bay Police Service. “We work with our community partners to support community well-being and address our concerns together. We support the Niigan Mosewak community program with the expected outcome of a positive police and youth relationship built on trust and respect. This positive relationship should result in a healthier and safer community.”
SNAP YJ, developed in 2012 as a pilot project, is an innovative adaptation of the groundbreaking, evidence-based SNAP (Stop Now And Plan) model. The program focuses on working with youth in the criminal justice system to enhance their emotion regulation, self-control and problem-solving skills. SNAP YJ aims to reduce the risk of further contact with the law and/or gang membership among males ages 12 – 17 who are involved in the youth justice system, either in custody, on probation and/or in the community.
With support from Justice Canada and Ontario’s Ministry of Children and Youth Services – Youth Justice Services Division, the SNAP YJ team continues to work collaboratively with multiple communities to ensure its approach meets the needs of the various youth populations it serves.
“By listening and participating respectfully in discussions around issues affecting Indigenous youth, we will learn a great deal about how to effectively work with the communities we are invited into,” says Dr. Leena Augimeri, CDI’s Director of SNAP Scientific and Program Development.
This new partnership with North Bay’s Indigenous communities is the start of collaborative work to enhance the cultural safety and relevance of programming content for youth who identify as Indigenous. Additional funding support from federal and provincial governments is providing opportunities and resources to help ensure SNAP YJ services reflect Indigenous ways of knowing and address real-life scenarios from remote communities, while still incorporating SNAP skills.
As part of this important relationship, the SNAP Youth Justice team aims to enhance the cultural safety of its programming while supporting the training and development of individuals in the community.
In just two days, this first meeting served to build the foundation of a relationship built on mutual trust and respect. The SNAP Youth Justice team gained valuable insight into the issues affecting this diverse Indigenous community and learned how to better tailor its program to meet their unique needs.
Adapting to child care and school structures, routines and social settings can be challenging for most children, but this transition can be especially difficult for children experiencing mental health challenges.
For Josef*, support from CDI’s Child Care Consultation team began early, when he first entered his neighbourhood child care centre at age 3 and showed signs of aggression and poor impulse control.
“Our team works closely with parents, caregivers and child care centre staff to ensure the specific needs of identified children are met,” says Cynthia Alutis, Early Intervention Manager at CDI. “We work closely with this core group to develop and implement an individualized consultation plan focusing on the child’s strengths and needs in order to support optimal development.”
CDI’s Child Care Consultation Services provide assistance to staff caring for children under the age of 12 who have extra support needs and are attending a licensed child care program. Consultants visit their designated centres on a r egular basis t o identify and r eview goals and strategies, monitor progress and coordinate additional support and services, when needed, while maintaining regular contact with parents. Child Care Consultation Services contribute positively to the enhancement of skills and the capacity of child care professionals to support children with special needs.
Through CDI’s integrated programming, children can continue to receive support as they transition into the school system and throughout their school years.
For Josef, difficulties controlling his temper at school led his kindergarten teacher to seek support via CDI’s school-based programs.
“I noticed that Josef would become aggressive and throw things or push them out of his way when he felt frustrated,” says Tamara*, Josef’s Junior Kindergarten teacher. “I thought he would be a good candidate for CDI’s Start Right Social Skills group, where he would be supported to develop better control of his impulses at school.”
Start Right Social Skills is an e arly intervention program for children in kindergarten who are having difficulty adjusting to the everyday demands of their regular classroom. The program, offered in partnership with the Toronto District School Board, provides structured opportunities for healthy social, emotional and behavioural learning. Children in the Start Right Social Skills program develop the confidence and skills to deal more effectively with challenges in the classroom, playground and at home.
“We see children like Josef make excellent gains in the Start Right Social Skills program and develop some new friendships along the way,” says Linda Martella, Manager of Early Intervention Services with CDI. “We help children learn to talk through their frustrations so they are less inclined to lash out physically, which helps them build better relationships with their peers.”
Thanks to the holistic approach provided by CDI’s two teams: Child Care Consultation Services and Start Right Social Skills, Josef has benefited from a positive, consistent and individualized support plan implemented in both school and child care.
*Josef and Tamara are fictional characters inspired by the lived experiences of children in CDI’s early intervention programs.
ACDI offers school-based prevention programs to help children struggling with social-emotional and behavioural issues. These programs are complemented by CDI’s Child Care Consultations Services, which provide assistance to staff at licensed child care centres caring for children who can benefit from additional support to meet their unique needs.
Children who receive the support they need early in life are better able to cope, regulate their emotions and build stronger and more positive relationships with their peers.
As a result of my history of abuse, I struggled with building a positive relationship with my son, especially when he was very young. I was referred to CDI’s Mothers in Mind (MIM) program to help me learn parenting skills and build a stronger relationship with my child.
I remember the first time I was asked in the MIM group to sit and play with my son; it was something I had never really done before. It took some time to feel comfortable playing, but I began really enjoying our play time together. Since we finished the group, we have become very close and I feel a lot better about being a mom. I’m back in school and working towards a better life for us. I’m hopeful about our future.
*Sofia’s name has been changed to protect her identity.
“When I am having one of those days, I think back to my time in Mothers in Mind and I remember that I am not alone. There are other mothers who had hurtful experiences who are doing their best to make things different for their children. I remind myself that it took courage to come to this group and I quietly remind myself, ‘I am a good mom.’”
Mothers in Mind is available at CDI locations in Toronto, and through over 20 licensed affiliate sites throughout Ontario.
Families in our Mothers in Mind program learn to find ways to, connect with each other and develop strategies for coping and feeling safe.
The heavy foot traffic began to take its toll on the St. Clair Gardens grounds, and the area was in need of revitalization when the team at Lowe’s Canada stepped up last spring to help out. A team of volunteer staff from the company’s Castlefield Avenue location dedicated their personal time to returning the space to its former glory, to the delight of CDI staff and youth.
“This kind of philanthropic initiative is what makes Lowe’s a community store,” says Brenda Moxey, Human Resources Manager at Lowe’s #2640 (1300 Castlefield Avenue, Toronto). “Our staff really believe in the work of Child Development Institute, and we’re happy to help.”
The Lowe’s team returned again in August 2015 to renovate the living room and kitchen space at St. Clair Gardens with a fresh coat of paint and a new floor, couch, refrigerator and dishwasher. A weekend of work transformed the SNAP Youth Leadership lounge into a warm, inviting space for team meetings, group counselling sessions and cooking nights for the SNAP Youth Leadership Group for years to come.
In addition to dedicating their personal time to volunteering at St. Clair Gardens, the Lowe’s Team has also fundraised for CDI through 50/50 draws, donations from customers, a silent auction and the Lowe’s Corporate Office matching program.
“We are so grateful to Lowe’s for all that they do to support Child Development Institute,” says Shauna Klein, CDI’s Director of Fund Development, Marketing and Communications. “We make it a priority to direct funding to our programming for children and families, which means that projects like space revitalization can take some time to complete. This is where private funders like Lowe’s have made such a difference,” she says.
Since opening its first store in 2007, Lowe’s Canada has invested over $2.5 million in local communities, with a focus on community improvement projects, creating safe and affordable housing and building awareness and interest among youth about skilled trades careers in Canada.
Through the Parkdale-High Park OEYCFC, Child Development Institute, in partnership with West Neighbourhood House, offers a variety of free programs and services for parents, caregivers and children under the age of seven. This location, one of 24 provincially-funded OEYCFCs located across Toronto, serves as a community hub for local families—it is an essential destination for families seeking parenting support and a close connection with other parents and children in the neighbourhood.
“Through our Connecting with Baby sessions, we invite parents and caregivers with babies to participate in interactive rhymes and songs and play activities that promote bonding with their babies,” says Marcia Lee, the program facilitator.
Connecting with Baby is just one of the many programs and services delivered at the Centre. Others include:
“A range of guest speakers attend the program to provide information on various subjects such as postpartum depression, child nutrition and early literacy. It’s a great opportunity for families to gain parenting information and build relationships with other nearby families,” says Coralie Braithwaite, Director of the Centre.
“Piper and I attend the Connecting with Babies program each week because it gives us a chance to meet other parents and babies at the same stage of development as Piper," says Sam, parent. “Plus, the Centre is right in our neighbourhood, so it’s a great opportunity to connect with families in our community.”
The Parkdale-High Park OEYCFC is located in the Dundas West and Keele neighbourhood. Programs run Monday through Friday each week, and two Saturdays per month.
Programs offered at Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centre (OEYCFC) create a bonding experience for families while promoting a child’s social development.
Children who learn to interact with others early in their development build vital social competency skills that will positively impact their interactions at school, at home and within the community.
"Children and youth living with LDMH are bright and have many strengths, but may feel ’dumb’ or be labeled as ’lazy’ even when they’re trying hard, since certain tasks are harder due to their specific neurobiology,” says Kate Cressman, Community Education and Engagement Facilitator with the Integra Program.
For parents and caregivers, trying to understand the challenges their child is facing and learning how to advocate on their child’s behalf in the school system can be difficult.
“We find that parents, caregivers and educators who are able to increase their understanding of LDMH through experiential learning are more empathic to the challenges children are facing, and they are better able to understand where their challenges are coming from and make accommodations for the child accordingly,” Kate says.
Each month, CDI’s Integra Program delivers experiential workshops in the community to parents, caregivers, educators and mental health professionals looking to enhance their knowledge and empathetic understanding of the processing challenges faced by children and youth with LDMH. These workshops, known as the Integra Community Education and Engagement program, provide participants with a simulated lived experience of what it may feel like to have processing challenges and how they may impact on or contribute to mental health challenges, such as peer relations difficulties, depression, anxiety and behaviour problems. This knowledge can help enhance emotional connection in caregiver-child relationships and improve the child’s experiences at home, school and in their community.
“Once a caregiver or educator is able to understand how difficult particular skills can be for a child with LDMH, they can approach parenting or teaching with more patience and resiliency,” says Dr. Marjory Phillips. “For example, by helping a parent understand that their child’s challenges with working memory can affect their ability to follow directions, the parent may become more empathic and more likely to intervene on their child’s behalf, which improves the outcomes for the whole family.”
“ Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it’s stupid.”
– Albert Einstein
The Integra workshop series delivers customized, innovative and engaging education sessions to help participants understand and empathize with the experiences of children and youth with learning disabilities and mental health issues.
Over 2,800 participants took part in Integra Program workshops delivered in 2015/16.
When parents, caregivers and educators improve their understanding of mental health issues and learning disabilities, they increase empathy and are better able to advocate for their children.
|REVENUE||OPERATING||SPECIAL||CAPITAL||2016 TOTAL||2015 TOTAL|
|Donations from CDI Foundation||865,859||865,859||747,936|
|Donations and other||222,301||7,379||6,180||235,860||633,116|
|Staff training & travel||219,431||219,431||189,253|
|Excess (deficiency) of revenue over expenses from operations||$199,596||$7,379||$(6,000)||$200,975||$(119,073)|