Celebrating the recipients of the 2024 Kinark Annual Recognition Event (KARE) Awards 

The Kinark Annual Recognition Event Awards, known as the KARE Awards, are a cherished tradition at Kinark Child and Family Services, celebrating the exceptional contributions and achievements of our staff over the past year. Each award nominee is put forward by their colleagues, those who understand their work intimately and witness their extraordinary contributions firsthand.  

Amidst a sea of excellence, identifying certain individuals for recognition can be a challenge. However, specific areas of outstanding contribution are acknowledged as particularly crucial to the impactful work being done at Kinark. This year, we saw a record-breaking 97 unique nominations, each one highlighting exemplary members of the Kinark team who have gone above and beyond in their roles. These nominees embody the spirit of dedication and excellence that is central to Kinark’s mission and success. 

The Inclusivity Award is given to the individual or team whose efforts and achievements stood out to advance diversity and foster a culture of inclusion and belonging at Kinark for clients, staff and volunteers. This year the Inclusivity Award was given to Anastasia Adarych, Clinical Case Manager in the York Child and Youth Mental Health office. 

A photo of a woman with blonde hair and a cream coloured top smiling and holding a glass KARE Award in front of balloons.
Anastasia Adarych, Clinical Case Manager

This past year, Anastasia worked with a client whose parents are Deaf. Anastasia immediately identified a gap in Kinark’s ability to support this family due to limited resources for ASL interpreters and she worked collaboratively with the parents to secure an agency that they felt comfortable with. Anastasia organized a speaker from Canadian Hearing Services to provide psychoeducation on the Deaf community, their culture, and services, as well as arranging for ASL interpreters to support the presentation.

Anastasia’s ability to recognize a program need truly exemplifies Kinark’s commitment to clients and families to ensure they are receiving quality care and services that are inclusive and considerate of their cultural, spiritual, and diverse needs. As an agency, Kinark will continue to work towards this goal with ongoing efforts and learnings. 

Samantha Woolfson, Clinical Therapist with the York Live-in Treatment program, was the recipient of the Individual KARE Award – Frontline Service for her outstanding work in the last year to advance quality, best practices, and improvements at Kinark.  

Samantha was recognized as the recipient of this individual award in the theme of “instilling hope” with our clients and families. As a skilled, sensitive, and ethical Clinical Therapist working within Kinark’s Live-In Treatment program, Samantha is creative in her use of DBT theoretical constructs with complex youth to commit to safety, to treatment, and to life worth living goals.  

A photo of a woman with blonde hair and a navy shirt, smiling and holding a glass KARE Award in front of balloons.
Samantha Woolfson, Clinical Therapist

Samantha took on Radically Open Dialectic Behaviour Therapy (RO-DBT) and Dialectic Behaviour Therapy for Kids (DBT-K) training, working with complex families along with running a DBT Family Skills group. Samantha has also been gracious in sharing her expertise and allowing new therapists coming into the LIT program to witness her work and pass on her skills of client engagement, creative perspective taking, and dialectical thinking. 

These innovative and forward-thinking approaches to mental health care are providing vital support to some of the most complex children and youth across the province. Kinark is proud to champion dedicated Clinical Therapists like Samantha, who consistently prioritize the needs of others above all else. 

The Individual KARE Award – Support Services was awarded to Affan Jalal, Clinical Lead, Autism Services. Every day, Affan consistently exemplifies the spirit of collaboration ensuring that Kinark can all ‘achieve more together.’ His dedication to the Autism program has significantly enhanced the capabilities of the team to provide cohesive, comprehensive support to clients and their families. 

A photo of a man in a button up shirt smiling and holding a glass KARE Award in front of balloons.
Affan Jalal, Clinical Lead

Affan’s unwavering commitment to excellence made him a standout candidate for this award. Over the past year, Affan demonstrated exceptional dedication to advancing quality, best practices, and overall improvement here at Kinark. His tireless efforts have not only streamlined processes – they have also fostered a culture of collaboration and innovation across the autism and shared services portfolios. Affan’s relentless pursuit of excellence and ongoing support are pivotal to the growth of our autism programs. 

Another crucial area of work is recognized by the Health, Well-being, and Safety KARE Award. This award was given to Amie Osman, Administration Manager in Autism Services.  

A photo of a woman in all black smiling at the camera while walking.
Amie Osman, Administration Manager

Over the past year, there have been unique challenges and demands with the relocation to a new head office. Amie was instrumental in supporting solutions such as panic buttons, new mag locks, sourcing and construction of an outdoor play area and keeping staff well informed of safety risks inside and outside of the building. Amie regularly prioritizes the health and safety needs of Kinark staff and clients.  

Two of the most anticipated KARE Awards each year are the Team recognition awards. This year saw the introduction of two distinct Team awards; Team KARE Award – General, and Team KARE Award – Frontline Service.  

This year the KARE Award for a team within support services was awarded to the CYMH Finance Team.  

A photo of a group of six people smiling and posing with a glass award in front of balloons.
CYMH Finance Team

While support services may not be recognized day to day, their efforts are critical to the efficiency of the agency. The impact of this small but mighty team of five can be felt most at year’s-end when they spend countless hours making sure the many projects that are on the go are paid for on time and within budget, and that all expenses for the fiscal year are met. 

The Frontline Service team that went above and beyond this year was the Markham ABA Centre Team.  

A photo of a group of nine people smiling and posing with a glass award in front of balloons.
Markham ABA Centre Team

The Markham ABA Centre is an extremely fast-paced environment where team members are required to think on their feet while ensuring clients are safe, learning, and happy. This team comes to work every day with a positive attitude, continuing to clients and families at the forefront of everything they do. The team’s cohesiveness demonstrates a strong commitment to serving the families, and ensuring all procedural programs and policies are followed while ensuring client confidentiality is maintained. This team continually keeps each child’s preferences and dislikes in mind to ensure everyone coming in has a personalized, learning experience. A lot of care and support is also given to parents to ensure they are continuing ABA at home in a manageable way. This team is highly dedicated to upholding Kinark’s values and showing their commitment to their clients. 

A core element of Kinark’s service is engagement with the families we serve and holding clients and client families at the centre of every decision, every day. The Family Engagement KARE Award specifically recognizes the efforts and achievements of an individual or team who actively collaborated with families in organizational planning and decision making to foster a culture of family engagement. A seemingly unlikely candidate, Jaikishan (Jai) Chhabaria, a Senior Business Analyst within the IT support team at Kinark, was awarded for his ongoing efforts to engage with client families in an authentic and meaningful way.  

A photo of a man wearing green, smiling and holding a glass award.
Jaikishan (Jai) Chhabaria, Senior IT Business Analyst

Jai has been involved with all the planning and implementation of Kinark’s free virtual Family Education webinar series from its inception. The planning phases of this education series included consulting families and staff. Jai heard their concerns and was able to secure the team a virtual platform to better meet the needs of our audience. Jai created an information sheet for family attendees on how to communicate with the presenters and manages the collection of polled data throughout the sessions to ensure that families and attendees needs are being met. He also facilitates a debrief following each session to identify quality improvement opportunities for upcoming webinars. Jai values and respects the needs of families, and partners with them whenever possible, proving that anyone can be a champion for family engagement across every area of Kinark’s services. 

These individuals represent just a small portion of the remarkable team at Kinark Child and Family Services, dedicated to meeting the complex needs of children and youth in our community. The power and dedication of our people are integral to the resilience, growth, and success of Kinark. Our staff members bring diverse skills, experiences, and perspectives, which are crucial in developing innovative and effective approaches to support our clients. They are the driving force behind our ability to adapt to changing needs and challenges, ensuring that we remain responsive and effective in our mission. The compassion and commitment of our team foster a supportive and nurturing environment for the children and families we serve, building trust and facilitating positive outcomes. The collective expertise of our professionals enables us to provide comprehensive and high-quality services, making a significant impact on the lives of those we support. 

At Kinark, we recognize that our people are our greatest asset. Their dedication and hard work are the foundation of our continued success, and we are proud to have such a talented and passionate team driving our organization forward. 

Want to join our team? Be sure to visit our Careers page to learn more about working at Kinark.