Making Progress on Our Strategic Plan

Like many organizations, Kinark needed to make difficult decisions regarding where to focus our time and energy. Our first priority was safe and effective services to our clients and their families. In the midst of the pandemic, Kinark prioritized business continuity of its services, but has continued, where feasible to advance the goals of its strategic plan. Some key accomplishments over the year are highlighted here.

CYMH Re-development Final Stage: Competency-based Supervision Model

In 2014 Kinark began its re-development journey towards the implementation of evidence-based quality programming across our five community-based child and youth mental health programs to better support complex children, youth and families.  In 2020, Kinark entered the final stage of the re-development project with the installation of its Competency-based Clinical Supervision Model to sustain clinical competency and increase the quality of service and overall experience for clients and our staff.

The Competency-based Supervision Model introduced comprehensive training for both clinicians and clinical supervisors and the use of the Cognitive Therapy Rating Scale (CTRS) – the gold standard to evaluate clinician competence in adult CBT (Young & Beck, 1980).  The model was predicated on the evidence that clinical skill must be both observed and evaluated using a standardized assessment in order to determine the clinical competency of clinicians. Kinark partnered with Dr. Robert Friedberg the creator of the CRTS tool in the implementation and evaluation of our exciting new supervision model.

The completion of this model advances Kinark’s strategic goal of continuous quality improvement to deliver the best possible outcomes for its clients and work experience for its employees.

Integration of Mental Health and Autism Services

In 2019, Kinark collaborated with over 20 child and youth Mental Health and Autism service providers and leaders from across Ontario to produce a policy paper: Putting Children and Youth First: Integrating Autism and Mental Health Services in Ontario.

To promote this work, Kinark partnered with Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) to co-host a forum at the CMHO Annual Conference in which clients, families, practitioners, and academics came together to identify opportunities for the integration of autism and mental health services in Ontario.

At Kinark, the integration of Mental Health and Autism services remains a priority. Children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are far more likely than children without ASD to experience mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and externalizing behaviours. They are more also likely to face barriers accessing mental health services and supports.

To better serve children and youth with co-occurring ASD and mental health challenges, Kinark took on the following initiatives in 2020-21:

  1. Utilizing the Mental Health Provider Survey to capture information from frontline staff who provide mental health services about their training, background and knowledge as it relates to treating children and adolescents with mental health problems and autism. This survey was a collaboration with Dr. Jonathan Weiss at York University. Results from the survey will be used to help us better understand the training needs of staff who work with children and youth with ASD and co-occurring mental health challenges.
  2. The Secret Agent Society Pilot (SAS) is a spy-themed intervention for children with ASD, aged eight to 12 that aims to improve their social and emotional resilience. The SAS program was being piloted jointly between Autism Services and the Durham CYMH program in in collaboration with Dr. Weiss and several other partners including from: CAMH, Brock University, Lake Ridge Community Supports and the University of Warwick.
  3. Autism Services and CYMH Integrated Team Pilot. The purpose of this multidisciplinary, mobile team was to improve services for Kinark clients with comorbid ASD and mental health disorders via assessment, brief intervention, consultation and staff training. This pilot initiative builds on early innovations in integrated service delivery developed during Kinark’s initial COVID-19 pandemic response and seeks to evaluate effective ways of working together to meet the needs of our clients with comorbid ASD and mental health issues.

Lead Agency in Child and Youth Mental Health

As a Lead Agency for child and youth mental health in three of the province’s service areas, Kinark continued to support and collaborate with its community partners to strengthen the child and youth mental health sector and tackle many of the challenges presented by the pandemic.

At the height of the pandemic, all of the core service providers across Durham, York, and Halliburton, Kawartha Lakes and Peterborough were faced with familiar challenges: implementing appropriate safety measures, accessing personal protective equipment (PPE), transitioning services to virtual, and ensuring effective strategies were in place to maintain in-person service where appropriate. Kinark responded by bringing providers together and collectively addressing these challenges; Served as a local hub to ensure our partners had ready access to supplies and PPE, and coordinated the use of provincial funding to address the most pressing needs that enabled care to continue.

Kinark also brought specific focus to Live in Treatment, helping to develop collaborative strategies to support stabilization of all partners within this critical service. Together, the organizations managed to serve their communities as effectively as possible.

Multi-year service plans were revised with priority focus on diversity, equity and inclusion and case planning for children and youth with complex needs.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Kinark recognizes the importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) being reflected in both the services it delivers, and within the culture of our organization. As a strategic priority, Kinark commissioned an Equity Audit to support the development of a diversity, equity and inclusion framework to identify opportunities to build on strengths and address improvement to any systemic/institutional, cultural and attitudinal barriers that may prevail. Kinark is looking forward to the findings of this audit in the coming year to inform its DEI journey.

Secure Treatment Expansion

In February of 2020, the Ministry of Health (MoH) announced a historic expansion of secure treatment for children and youth in Ontario.  We were very pleased to be included in that expansion and to more than double our secure treatment capacity at Syl Apps.  Syl Apps Youth Centre will be opening 12 new beds early in 2021/22.