Monday 30 May 1994

Children at risk

Ontario Association of Children's and Youth Institutions

Nancy Peters, executive director, Massey Centre for Women

Maria Bertoni, executive director, The Boys' Home

Ontario Teachers' Federation

Douglas Lougheed, principal, Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute

Margaret Ann Lougheed, guidance counsellor, Northern Secondary School

Ontario Contract Custody Observation and Detention Homes Association

Robert Thompson, president

Provincial Council of Children's Services Co-ordinating and Advisory Groups

Michael Cushing, acting chair

John Sheehan, executive director, Peterborough Children's Services Group


*Chair / Président: Beer, Charles (York-Mackenzie L)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Eddy, Ron (Brant-Haldimand L)

*Carter, Jenny (Peterborough ND)

*Cunningham, Dianne (London North/-Nord PC)

*Hope, Randy R. (Chatham-Kent ND)

*Martin, Tony (Sault Ste Marie ND)

McGuinty, Dalton (Ottawa South/-Sud L)

*O'Connor, Larry (Durham-York ND)

*O'Neill, Yvonne (Ottawa-Rideau L)

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre ND)

*Rizzo, Tony (Oakwood ND)

Wilson, Jim (Simcoe West/-Ouest PC)

*In attendance / présents

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Jackson, Cameron (Burlington South/-Sud PC)

Clerk / Greffier: Arnott, Doug

Staff / Personnel: Boucher, Joanne, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1542 in room 151.


Consideration of a matter designated pursuant to standing order 125 relating to children "at risk."

The Chair (Mr Charles Beer): Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. The standing committee on social development is again meeting under standing order 125 to review a designated matter, which is the issue of children at risk. We have a full afternoon of witnesses.

Just before asking the first representatives to come forward, I note that Joanne has circulated the summary of the committee's hearings to date on children at risk. Is there anything you wanted to say about it, Joanne?

Ms Joanne Boucher: Not on that, but just to note also that we've included the report that came out last week from Metro Toronto called the Outsiders, which is on relevant issues, I think, and also a series of press clippings on relevant issues.

The Chair: Fine. Thanks very much.


The Chair: I call our first witnesses for this afternoon, from the Ontario Association of Children's and Youth Institutions: Maria Bertoni and Nancy Peters. We're delighted that you could join us today.

Ms Nancy Peters: Thank you. We're delighted to be here. I'm Nancy Peters, executive director at Massey Centre for Women. Maria Bertoni is the executive director for The Boys' Home. We've been asked by OntChild, as OntChild member agencies, to present to the committee the prospectus of the children whom OntChild represents.

Within the OntChild network of agencies, "risk" has been defined as the significant probability that a young person receiving services from an OntChild agency would develop serious behavioural problems or psychiatric disorders as a young adult; secondly, be dependent on social assistance and live in deprived, often abusive social and economic conditions.

OntChild agencies are providing a wide range of programs to reduce this risk for thousands of young people in Ontario. OntChild believes that young people are our future and that the needs of young people must be a priority for government and for society at large.

In spite of the fact that many initiatives have been undertaken to address the needs of our young people by all government parties, the unfortunate reality remains that young people and their concerns are not a priority and that all too often their needs are placed on the back burner.

As stated in Children First, there must be a commitment to ensuring that all children are provided with the essentials of adequate care so that they may have the chance to realize their potential and develop into healthy, contributing members of society.

OntChild is dedicated to enhancing the quality of care provided to children and youth in Ontario. We urge the government to make children's needs a priority and to recognize that investing in services for children and youth is of critical importance to our society, not only in the short term but, even more importantly, as an investment in the long term.

What is OntChild? OntChild is a non-profit, charitable association. Its member agencies serve children and youth in both residential and non-residential capacities across all regions of Ontario, from Windsor to Cochrane, from Thunder Bay to Cornwall. Under the OntChild umbrella, agencies provide essential services to over 10,000 youth annually. In addition, OntChild serves thousands of youth in street outreach programs and in drop-in centres, in families and also hundreds of infants of the teen mothers in our maternity homes. The OntChild system treats, supports, teaches and rehabilitates youth aged 12 to 21 years.

Each OntChild agency provides a community-based service that has been instituted by local initiatives to meet a community-perceived need. Local boards of directors oversee the programs to ensure the unique and diverse flavour of the community it serves.

OntChild's youth: The combination of serious stressors and social and economic adversity faced by OntChild clients increases the risk of long-term negative consequences in OntChild's client population. OntChild's youth are at a high risk of developing serious behavioural and/or psychiatric problems.

OntChild's youth are at a high risk to become dependent on welfare and they often live in deprived and abusive social and economic conditions.

Typical OntChild clients suffer from a large number of serious stressors in their lives, adding significantly to a high level of risk. Forty-four per cent of OntChild youth suffer from a history of physical abuse; 36% of OntChild youth suffer from a history of sexual abuse. The typical OntChild client lives with poverty, mental illness and violence; they are victims of social and economic adversity. Fifty-four per cent of OntChild youth or their families are supported by welfare; 34% of OntChild youth or their families live in public housing; 28% of OntChild youth or their families live in a single-parent household.

OntChild agencies provide residential and nonresidential care to clients from a normalized, not pathological, perspective. At times, government legislation such as Bill C-120 creates additional hardship for young people, as in this case agencies will not longer be permitted to assist their clients who may be attempting to control violent partners and violent family members from whom they are trying to escape.

OntChild agencies recognize the needs of its female clients from a social, learning and growth-oriented viewpoint, not from a pathological or illness model. OntChild agencies work with female clients to provide social support, education and retraining. OntChild agencies recognize the needs of its male clients to receive structured, corrective, behavioural interventions.

OntChild agencies provide these services through a voluntary system of help rather than a mandated one. As research has shown, youth approached outside the corrections/policing systems are more likely to respond more effectively to intervention. A reference for that point is Michael Rudder in Changing Youth in Changing Times.

OntChild's service model treats its clients with a non-labelling, informal and cost-effective approach to intervention.


In the document we've circulated for you, there are a number of graphs which indicate different perspectives of OntChild youth. They include indicators of long-term risk by gender, indicators of long-term risk by age group, indicators of long-term risk looking at females only and, again, social and economic stressors showing the percentages of OntChild youth who are impacted by various kinds of stressors in their lives. Many of them, it's important to note with this graph, have more than one of these stressors. It's not just that one youth will have one and another youth will have another; there are usually multiple stressors in their lives.

I'll now pass on to Maria Bertoni. She's going to review some of the recommendations we're making in our deputation.

Ms Maria Bertoni: Prior to beginning, I'd like to point out that there are some typographical errors on the recommendations. We will be submitting a revised copy.

We have four recommendations which we believe have picked up all the points that Nancy has made.

The first one: The direction of current thinking is the notion of partnership and collective ventures among agencies. This is reasonable, but should not be exclusive. An organization should freely have the option to pursue service directions without risking rejection because it is not a collaborative, multiagency venture. The ideology of collective versus individual approaches must not be the determining factor in defining the way services are or will be evaluated. Evaluation must be based on the ability to demonstrate the delivery of effective and efficient services to children at risk.

OntChild's recommendation is to permit and find acceptable a variety of approaches to service delivery which recognize and support the individuality and uniqueness of all youth.

Point 2: Further research and studies are not required to confirm our knowledge that those people caught in the repetitive cycle of poverty and choice limitations are a marginalized group. Intervention must begin at the prenatal stage and continue up to transition age, which is 18-plus.

OntChild's recommendation is that prevention in the form of early identification be given priority in the form of service and funding commitment, as stated in the Ministry of Community and Social Services policy framework and the Premier's Council report entitled Yours, Mine and Ours.

Point 3: Two words need to be side by side, "opportunity" and "responsibility." Our aim has to be the support and encouragement of an independent and productive lifestyle. From a broad-based perspective, all services have to be responsibility-based, with built-in criteria to support and advance this direction.

OntChild's recommendation is that existing services and new initiatives clearly demonstrate their built-in criteria from the perspective of promoting individual responsibility rather than dependency-based services.

The last point: Money for new initiatives is in the direction of community-based programs. However, there continue to be community services dependent upon fund-raising dollars, which places these services in jeopardy. Governments have to consider correcting the existing inequities prior to or in concert with new dollars for new initiatives.

OntChild's recommendation is that the different levels of government take the necessary steps to address and correct existing funding inequities for community-based services while continuing to promote new initiatives.

At this time we'll receive any questions that people would like to present to us.

The Chair: Thank you. Could you just refresh our memory? Bill C-120, which is a federal bill: What exactly does it do?

Ms Peters: Bill C-120 is the provincial document that has just had third reading regarding basement apartments and amendments to the Landlord and Tenant Act.

The Chair: Okay, sorry, so it's the provincial bill. It's just that C usually indicates Canada.

Ms Peters: Oh, does it? Okay. Bill 120.

Mrs Yvonne O'Neill (Ottawa-Rideau): I have quite a few questions. I'd like to ask you, because you didn't spend much time on your charts, what you mean by "risk scale" in all of your charts. You've got "parental acceptance." What are your criteria for the term "risk scale," which appears on all of the charts?

Ms Peters: The one where it says "Indicators of Long-Term Risk"? Is that what you're asking?

Mrs O'Neill: I think I can understand the other terminologies, but I'm not sure, since the whole thing is "Indicators of Long-Term Risk," what "risk scale" means. Is it a summation of all the others?

Ms Peters: Risk scale?

Mrs O'Neill: Risk scale, third from the right.

Ms Peters: You're asking the question, what does the scale mean, from zero to five?

Mrs O'Neill: What the risk scale section means, yes.

Ms Peters: As far as I understand, it's the number that's been chosen on a scale of zero to five. It could be a scale of zero to 10. It's just indicating population numbers that would have all of these risks by number. So if you're looking at social impairment --

Mrs O'Neill: No, I'm not looking at social impairment or behaviour misconduct or any of those others, because I think I understand the terms. But within each of them there is, third from the right of the page, the term "risk scale." Is that a summation of all the others?

Ms Peters: Oh, I see where you're looking.

Mrs O'Neill: Maybe you can get back to us about that.

Ms Peters: I think that we'll have to get back to you, because this came from the association.

Mrs O'Neill: Okay, if you can get back to us when you send in the correction on the recommendations, that would be great.

The Chair: Are these indicators from the Ontario Child Health Study that was on indicators of risk, the one that Dan Offord did? Where did these specific indicators come from?

Ms Peters: They're from a document that OntChild prepared called Risk in Perspective. So they're OntChild. It was a document that was looking at the youth that OntChild was serving and the kinds of risks they had when they were presenting in our agencies. We could actually include that document, if that's helpful to the committee.

Mrs O'Neill: I think that would be.

If I may go to the recommendations and your recommendation 3, would you explain a little bit more about what you mean by that? It sounds quite helpful. If you would just tell us exactly what you mean.

Ms Bertoni: What we're attempting to say with point 3 is that all services ought to have an objective in which the youth will no longer be required to depend on that service.

The essence of point number 3 is that what we believe in is that services ought to promote and inspire independent-type behaviour, as opposed to dependent behaviour. So whatever it is in the type of service that is given, it has to promote the fact that this youth will not longer continue to require services. So the essence there is that basically what we're saying is that we want that individual responsibility and to promote independent, self-sustaining behaviour, which is what a service should fundamentally have. Does that make sense?

Mrs O'Neill: That's helpful. If you would go back to your opening remarks, I have somewhat the same concern as you that the children's services are on the back burner. Could you tell us why you personally think that's the case? You work in the field every day. You must have some ideas in your own mind about why that reality -- I think it's a reality; you've stated it is a reality -- exists.

Ms Peters: I think one of the reasons it exists is that we're all working within difficult times. So there are financially difficult times. There are the children whose parents, because of the recession, are receiving less than adequate food and they're living in poverty and they're living in situations of violence. It's very difficult to address those concerns when the quick fix would be to say, "Yes, everyone needs to have x number more dollars and life would be easy for them," but I think we can't lose sight of the fact that when working with these children, those kinds of living situations really impact, long-term, negatively on them.

It creates a sense of dependency on systems. It creates a sense of hopelessness in being able to move forward into the future not only for the children but also for their families. I think what we see on a day-to-day basis is that there is a sense of hopelessness and a sense of not being able to get out of the cycle that they're finding themselves in and I think that puts them at greater risk.


Mrs O'Neill: I guess I'd like to reiterate the back-burner concept here. Children and children's services seem now to be less important in government or in government priority-setting. That's a great concern to me. That's one of the reasons we're doing this study right at the moment. Maybe you would like to give us your opinion about why you think that's the case.

Ms Peters: I think there are a number of initiatives that could make things better for kids. There are a lot of people who, for example, are waiting for child care for their children, and there aren't enough child care subsidy dollars for kids to be in the day care system, for example.

Looking at a back-burner situation for me in my own situation at Massey Centre, the program that's providing innovative new ways for young single mothers to break out of poverty and welfare, to go back to school and to learn how to care for their children, has just been altered. The capability of running that program has been altered by legislative means. I think that's a very serious situation. There was an opportunity for young mothers to break out of this cycle which has been impacted on by a government decision. That's just an example.

Mrs O'Neill: Could you give us the actual piece of legislation you're referring to?

Ms Peters: Bill 120.

Mrs O'Neill: How does that directly affect what you were doing?

Ms Peters: We used to be exempted from the Landlord and Tenant Act, so we were able to have house rules and monitor the babies' development and teach the mothers how to care for their children by going in and working side by side with them. Now, in order to do that, we'll require 24-hour notice. If we hear that there's a situation where a child may be in difficulty from a security standpoint, we won't be able to access, which we do immediately now. We will have to call police or the CAS. It does impact on the relationships and the kinds of changes you can make for young families to experience life differently.

Mrs O'Neill: Your program was one where you had residential care, but it was beyond. It wasn't in any one location. You were in a supportive housing situation.

Ms Peters: It's a transitional supportive housing model providing care for young mothers postnatally.

Mrs O'Neill: I'm glad you brought that to our attention.

I just have one final question. I wondered if you would be a little more explicit about when you were suggesting that you do not have -- I just wanted to get the exact words here -- the pathological perspective but the normalized perspective in your treatment. Could you summarize or give an example of what you mean by that approach, which I presume both of you use?

Ms Bertoni: From my perspective, you work with the youth not from the standpoint of the pathological, meaning the sick way, a sick model, but rather from the healthy model. It's a different slant on how you work with kids than the previous model.

Mrs Dianne Cunningham (London North): Thank you very much for being here. What city are you from?

Ms Peters: Toronto.

Ms Bertoni: Toronto.

Mrs Cunningham: My perspective is more London, Ontario. I was listening carefully when you talked about Bill 120. I have to tell you that there were many presentations before the committee making the point that you made, and the government just ignored it. I think you should try it again, give some specific examples in the next six months and don't leave it, because if you're trying to get in and help people and they're using this as an excuse for allowing you to be helpful, I think those kinds of things have to be documented. Make sure you let us know about it.

Ms Peters: Certainly I'll be presenting at an OntChild conference this week about the bill because it's not only Massey Centre that's impacted; it's a number of OntChild agencies. We will be looking at that and I'll take those words back. It's very helpful.

Mrs Cunningham: If you've got specific examples, don't wait too long. One or two are enough. That's what everybody needs to hear.

When you talk about children at risk, and I certainly agree with and appreciate your definition, are you basically dealing with young children in your work and are you dealing with a lot of volunteers? When you talk about funding, what kind of funding for what kind of programs are you talking about?

Ms Bertoni: From an OntChild standpoint?

Mrs Cunningham: Yes.

Ms Bertoni: It's youth ages 12 to 18, but it's also young moms and their babies. From a funding standpoint, pretty well all services are receiving money from Community and Social Services, from the ministry. There are some fund-raising dollars as well, but primarily our revenue comes from the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Mrs Cunningham: These are programs that are specific to Toronto and area?

Ms Bertoni: These programs are province-wide.

Ms Peters: The province-wide programs would receive funding through the Ministry of Community and Social Services. In Metro we also receive some Metro dollars for our child care portions.

Mrs Cunningham: How much work do you do with the local school systems?

Ms Peters: A number of OntChild agencies have section 27 schools attached to the agency, usually joint partnerships with whatever their local school board is. As well, the agency would do the general administration for that school program.

Mrs Cunningham: Do you find that there is a freedom of information flowing between your agency and the teachers or are you finding that the teachers are hesitant to get involved with the work that you're doing with the students?

Ms Bertoni: At The Boys' Home we have a section 27 classroom and under the current regulations the teachers are helpful. However, we are not permitted to give information on the kids or their backgrounds. Respecting that limitation of information, we have found the teachers to be rather helpful. Most of The Boys' Home kids are in our section 27 or in local schools, and we've not had a problem with integrating the kids in the local schools and receiving support, providing whatever direction is necessary.

Mrs Cunningham: I mean, 12 to 18 is late to do some of the things I know you want to do, right? The reason I'm asking the question is because, certainly in my travels and in my position as the critic for Education and Training, I'm finding that with a lot of the agencies such as yours, there isn't the kind of free flow of support that each needs to do its work, because of too much red tape and legislation. A lot of the programs probably would be more beneficial if they extended before and after the school day.

Ms Bertoni: On early identification, what we're trying to raise there is the point that with children at a much younger age -- and this goes back to day care -- there are problems which are identified. If those problems are adequately dealt with at a very young age, they'll require the kind of services, for example, that The Boys' Home has. We're making an emphasis to identify early and provide the remedial assistance required, and more than likely the kids won't be needing the residential care that Nancy has or that I have or that other agencies have.

It's kind of putting it up front at that age. We say here "prenatal" clearly for a reason. If young moms have the support, have the knowledge, have the education they require, then there's a very good chance that they'll do much better, their kids will do much better and they won't have to look in my doors.

Mrs Cunningham: The neonatal physicians would agree with you too, for a lot of reasons.

On your last page, page 5, you talk about research, which I don't believe we use to the extent that we ought to in Ontario. "As the research has shown, youth approached outside the corrections/policing systems are more likely to respond more effectively to intervention."


You work with young people, young boys, you talked about The Boys' Home. Can you give us any examples here of the kind of work you do that would support this recommendation, which is really saying, "Better they be outside penal institutions," either in schools or in programs such as your own? I think that's what you're saying here. Can you help us in that way? Do we need more of the programs that you're talking about -- my assumption is yes -- and why?

Ms Peters: It's all a part of what we were talking about in the comment about normalizing behaviour. By providing programs such as we're providing, the services are able to meet the kids where they are when they present to us and then begin to build on the kinds of needs they require rather than addressing only the behaviour that got them into a penal institution of some kind.

By front-ending with agencies such as ours, which are teaching them how to interact socially, how to go back and get an education, making them feel hopeful that they can be successful, that they're not "bad kids," is really an important aspect of what we're doing. Rather than getting caught up for these kids believing, "Okay now, I'm in an institution because I've been a young offender," it's creating a different life outcome for them.

Ms Jenny Carter (Peterborough): I've just got one or two points of clarification here. On your first graph, prior placements, does that mean that sometimes children have been in an unsuitable placement and that has become an additional stress? Is that why those are there?

Ms Peters: Yes, that's correct. A number of OntChild children have been in more than one placement and the placement has broken down. That increases stressors because they have to become acquainted with different ways of doing things in different agencies, or they've come into one agency for some problem and they've gone back home and the family situation breaks down again, so they are placed in another kind of institution. They have a number of changes in their lives.

Ms Carter: You do have living in public housing as a risk factor. That puzzles me a little bit, because presumably somebody in public housing is better off than if they had something worse still.

Ms Peters: I think it's all comparative. In looking at where this information came from, living in public housing was a very common thread for the children we were reviewing when we were looking at kids at risk and, from their perspective, public housing seemed to be a common denominator that a lot of them had.

Ms Carter: One would need to know whether that was because certain people end up in public housing or because it was ghettoized in some way.

Ms Peters: Or because it's related to living with a lower income than other families have, which could be one of the strong indicators.

Ms Carter: I just wondered in the last graph in the bundle here why there are two different kinds of hatching, whether there's any significance to that. That's the social and economic stressors.

Ms Bertoni: Sorry, two different kinds of?

Ms Carter: You've got the sort of loose striping and then the closer striping, and I'm just wondering --

Ms Peters: It's because one is looking at the economic stressors, the ones at the top, and the bottoms are --

Ms Carter: And the bottom's the economic, okay.

Ms Peters: It's splitting off separately.

Ms Carter: Yes, right. That makes sense. I'm concerned about what you're saying about Bill 120. I find it a bit puzzling, though. I can't believe that access would be denied in a case of emergency, and of course in this government we have gone through the Advocacy Act, which by definition is something whereby somebody who needs help in an emergency can get that response, and if entry were not given immediately, then the advocate could get a warrant and could gain access. I'm just wondering what the real situation is here.

Ms Peters: For Massey Centre and for a number of OntChild agencies the real situation is that when we were exempted from the Landlord and Tenant Act we were providing programs and now, being placed under the Landlord and Tenant Act, we are in a position of providing housing. The bill has changed the perspective of what it is we're actually doing with the clients, in that prior, when it was programs that we were providing for them, we were able to have things like house rules.

One of the things we do at Massey Centre is, every client who comes into the program has to go to school or go to work to be eligible for the program. We will not be able to have that rule any more. It will just make it regular housing, whereas before, housing was just a piece of a program that we do, the same as day care and section 27 school. It changes a number of the criteria in the way we're able to do things differently for kids.

If there's a problem in one of the housing units now, we will have to call the police or children's aid, whereas before, we would just access their units and give them support and take the baby away if the baby was giving them some problems, look after the baby for two hours, and then they go back and feel good that they can manage again. It makes it a more adversarial kind of situation for us.

Ms Carter: I'm not absolutely clear about the structure of OntChild, just how it works in with other agencies. For example, in my own city of Peterborough -- we have a representative right here -- would you operate there, and if so, in what capacity?

Ms Peters: It's a provincial association of agencies, about 40 agencies, that are providing services to youth. So I can't say 100% certain that we have an OntChild member from the Peterborough area but we certainly are diversified all over Ontario.

Ms Carter: But do the existing agencies come in under your umbrella rather than you originating them?

Ms Bertoni: Yes. Agencies have come under the umbrella. The association was created 10 years ago and a number of agencies have joined the association and many new ones can join as well, but basically the 40 agencies that Nancy referred to have been in existence for quite a long time.

The Chair: Thank you. I regret that we've finished our half-hour. I wonder, just because of the interest in the subject of Bill 120 -- you said you were going to be making some comments later this week or next week at a conference -- it might be useful for members of the committee if you could send us a copy of those remarks.

Ms Peters: I will, for sure. Thank you for giving us the time to speak.

Mr Randy R. Hope (Chatham-Kent): Mr Beer, while they may be sending that, recommendation number 4 talked about inequities of funding and I'm wondering if they could maybe forward how much it does cost to service a child. Everybody bases their comments on equity funding but we have no dollar figure of what it does take to service a child. That would be important.

The Chair: If you have that answer, we'd like to have that one too.

Ms Peters: We will, for sure.


The Chair: I would then call on our next witnesses representing the Ontario Teachers' Federation, Douglas Lougheed, principal, Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute, and Margaret Ann Lougheed, guidance counsellor at Northern Secondary School. Welcome to you both. We're a little bit behind but we have the full half-hour.

Mr Douglas Lougheed: We'll try and move it along. Thank you for the opportunity to present to this committee. When we were asked by the teachers' federation, we saw it as an opportunity.

I have prepared a very brief summary, along with two handouts, one of which will give you a little background about myself, if you can read it. I guess you need a magnifying glass or powerful reading glasses to see the fine print. I apologize for that.

The second is simply an idea at the moment. It's a very well-thought-out idea on the Gateway project which deals with and really is a link between the people presenting before us and the presentation later in a way of dealing with kids coming out of detention and giving them an opportunity to develop the skills to enable them to transit back into regular schooling. We are currently on a search for funding for that project. I steal the opportunity to say that.


I assume this committee would be well aware of the problems of at-risk students, because they're not really secret and they're pretty well documented. What we are looking at are solutions, all of us. There's certainly an increase in the identified number of at-risk students. We are much more aware of the behaviours that these young people exhibit and we are currently trying to deal with them in the school system.

The sources covered by the committee's mandate -- poverty, living conditions and abuse -- are primary factors in teenage problems. These are not limited to any part of the economic spectrum. We know that those who are living in poverty and difficult housing situations present certain difficulties, although the problems of abuse cover the entire spectrum of our economic and cultural mosaic and there is no specific group from which those problems come. I think that's important for all of us to remember. We sometimes think of inner-city schools as being in need. I believe that all schools are in need. I've had the opportunity to work in all parts of the city -- the north, the west, the east and the centre -- and there is no area that is without need in these things.

In reality, the statistics point out that 3% to 4% of our youth are in serious need of treatment, the services of agencies in special treatment, while 17% are at-risk kids. We should keep in perspective that 80% of our youth are probably okay. Sometimes in things like this we lose sight of the fact that all kids are not problems and all kids are not in the same need, although they have different kinds of needs at the other spectrum of our programs.

Although we're talking on behalf of the federation, I've used examples from my own school to highlight the kinds of things that have been happening and perhaps to point out the problems and some of the things we need. I'll mention three.

Fast-tracking is a program we've recently evolved where we take kids who are seriously behind in credits, kids who are 16, 17, 18 years of age with anything less than five credits -- there is a surprising number of these students -- and find ways to put them in a program which enables them to move quickly through the system. They go out of the range of normal classroom scheduling, and we're expanding that into computer learning; we think that will provide a linkup. The idea is certainly used in Gateway of how we might do a better job with kids who leave school, go to other areas where similar programs could be evolved, carry a disc with them, come back into school and have a way of either catching up or staying on track and having an opportunity in terms of being a contributing member of society. Many of these kids who are in trouble have abilities that they never get a chance to portray.

Behaviour modification is a very major part of dealing with kids who come with all the things presented here, with many programs in the school using many resources: social workers, psych-ed consultants, youth child care workers within our school.

Mentoring, which has now come with a destreaming project, is very much a contributing factor to increased attendance and better performance of difficult students, and all students, in fact.

Some examples of agencies: We run a program, Change Your Future, where we have people who come into our school and work with black youth to help them to change their perspective on the world, provide role models, counsel them. Kids in that program in our school are doing very well. That program extends to other schools throughout the city.

A very new idea is one with Frontier College, which is a funded agency which provides tutorial services. I believe we're the first school to have tutors from Frontier College come directly into our school and work with young people who are slow readers. I know the public has difficulty understanding that kids who go through our school system come to high school reading at a grade 2 and 3 level, but that is a reality, and we're trying to get some increased ways of helping these kids to have a better chance.

The life skills program directly related at one time to the Boys' Home. We house the Boys' Home program at Danforth, although it's part of the hospitals and institutions, but it actually is located in our building. We have dealt with those kids for all the years I've been there. In fact, when the kids graduate, in a way, from the Boys' Home, they integrate into our school, and several of them have done so quite successfully. Two, I know for sure, will graduate this year from Danforth, so there is a continuum.

They formerly provided a resource in our school. Funding eliminated that. We also had a resource from Central Toronto Youth Services. It was a two-pronged program. When one prong withdrew, the other withdrew. Now we no longer have the life skills program, and that is fairly typical of what has happened.

These programs do work. They increase retention in school. They do increase kids' ability to learn and they are important. Suddenly we are faced with cutbacks, for reasons that have already been pointed out and that are very real. However, they're cutbacks in areas that in our opinion and in my opinion are already poorly financed and poorly staffed for the needs that are there.

At the same time there are decisions -- I guess I can give specifics, if you like. In my opinion, there are many decisions made politically where tax dollars are spent on projects and programs which have little or no accountability to the general public and where people cannot show specific outcomes. In the meantime, projects where there is documentation and there are real outcomes are cut, and we find that very difficult.

In our own school this year, we have lost 10 teachers because of the changes in the factors of destreaming as opposed to basic education. Funding: We have lost a social worker, we have lost the life skills people, we've lost four educational assistants. The kinds of things you would read about in that article which are real and have good outcomes cannot be done at the same level as those resources dwindle. They are expensive, I recognize that, but we must find a way to deal with the at-risk kids in our schools because society cannot afford not to succeed with them. They are difficult, demanding and very needy young people. They are special kids and they require special adults to help them.

I hope this committee would look at ways of doing that, because it is a real, crucial situation. Margaret Ann will carry on with her agencies.

Ms Margaret Ann Lougheed: I would like to start with my answer to the question you asked of the people from OntChild: Why are adolescents not a high priority? My own theory has always been that the adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 are the only group in society who do not affect a political vote. Under 12, children by law have to be looked after, and you don't get the vote until you're 18 years old. I really think there's a whole group in society that most politicians don't want to hear about, especially when they're running for office, because they do not create votes. That has been a little pet feeling of mine for quite a long time, and I'm just delighted to be able to get it out in a political atmosphere.

I've been teaching on and off for 34 years and during the last few years have been in full-time guidance. At the same time as I've been doing full-time guidance, I've been on three community boards, primarily dealing with adolescents. One of them, Delisle Youth Services, has counselling as well as a residential program and a section 27 program, as that is somewhat similar to Boys' Home program. They deal with a very small number of students.

The other board I have been on is POINT, People and Organizations in North Toronto, which really started to address the drug culture in the late 1960s. At that time it was called the North Toronto youth counselling project and then it evolved through many different situations, and POINT for many years has been the result.

I am the board representative to the Health Station, which was funded, and I think really quite a miracle of funding, through Ministry of Health and Comsoc working together to provide that agency. It is truly an example of government ministries working together.

Through the Health Station, Delisle is providing counselling to adolescents, but it's doing it with no funding at all. When the two ministries decided to fund the Health Station, it was to concentrate mainly on seniors and adolescents. I think I'm right in saying that it was close to $480,000 that was provided to fund the seniors programs and zero dollars to provide adolescent services, which gives you some idea of the difference in the priorities. As a result, Delisle has been providing the counsellor one half-day a week for a crisis drop-in, and yet Delisle's funding has been cut back and they're getting no funding for their counselling specifically for that, and very little funding to their agency for counselling as it stands.


As well, I'm involved with an adolescent mental health committee which is involving Sunnybrook hospital, North York General Hospital, the Health Station, Delisle and several other areas in the north Toronto area, looking at services for adolescents. What we're hoping to do is to be able to come up with the gaps in service in order to assist adolescents, and we want to look at the group up to age 24, because we feel that the transitional age group from 18 to 24 also is being very badly serviced.

We are appalled at the fact that the only agency north of Bloor Street is Delisle Youth Services, looking at counselling. We are working with them at Northern Secondary School now doing a dropout prevention program. It's been highly successful this year, and the money has come through Citizenship and Immigration. It may not be funded next year because they are now looking at a work component and they didn't really say that the money was for any more than one year.

It has been highly successful. They're working with close to 40 students, and we will be very, very disappointed if we lose that resource. Because it has been successful in keeping these very high-risk students in school, we're very much hoping that that kind of thing will continue and that this sort of program could be initiated in other schools in the same way. Reaching 40 at-risk students with two social workers is a fairly high percentage of payback.

Another thing for certainly guidance people in secondary schools, and I think we'd have to look at children's service as well, is that accessing counselling services is a real problem. Psychologists are not funded, basically, especially to people who are not on any sort of health plan, and most people on health plans don't get full funding for psychologists. Social workers are not funded unless they're in community agencies.

What you're looking at in terms of adolescents is that if you want to get counselling help for students, there is a wait of anywhere up to six months. Three to four weeks would be the absolute minimum. The tragedy is that in most cases, one or two sessions for some of these kids can set them in the right direction. It can link them with something; it can show that someone cares. Oftentimes two or three sessions will be all you need, on a crisis basis, to create an intervention that is going to stop behavioral problems which can be really quite serious in society and can have ramifications that cause an awful lot more financial penalty than the two or three sessions of counselling that might have been the intervention right then.

I think the training for physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists who are working with adolescents -- physicians in particular -- does not focus in on adolescent care. Of all the physician surveys we in this adolescent task force sent out, from physicians we got something like seven back, and of those, very few were answered in such a way that you would really think adolescents were a priority. So that's another area that needs to be looked at in terms of training people to deal with children and youth and the problems they are experiencing.

I agree with the question that was asked about OntChild. The free flow of information is a problem in terms of schools getting information from the medical fraternity. In many cases we send kids on to get help and they may be getting counselling, but in no way is the school given any direction on how we should be handling these kids. If you have somebody who has a psychological problem and you can't let the teachers know that there is a specific problem and this is how they should be dealing with it, then all the school is doing in many cases is exacerbating a problem that may be starting in the school itself. We have to in some way address the fact that we need to be able to have more information to help these kids.

The most important thing is that we have to fund existing agencies to a much higher degree than we are at the present time and look for a continuum of care between the social agencies and the schools so that we can deal with the people who are having problems and creating a problem for our society.

I'd be glad to answer questions, and I'm sure Doug would.

The Chair: Thank you for the material you've provided. We could probably spend several hours and also ought to go out, if we had the time, to look at some of the projects you've referred to. But we'll try to get some of that in the time for questions.

Mrs O'Neill: Let me start with a technical question again. You've given the figures around the 80%, and I certainly agree with those. Are they from your own experience? Are they provincial or your own?

Ms Lougheed: I work with the adolescent mental health committee through Sunnybrook hospital, and we've actually just done a survey in the four schools in North Toronto. I actually have the study with me. I don't think it's a document Sunnybrook would want me to pass on, but the figures came out exactly the same, so this is the information I have from Sunnybrook.

Mrs O'Neill: I have some background in education and I'm very pleased that you brought forward the example of the two or three sessions that can really turn people around if they're offered at the right point. I've seen that often, and I don't think you were exaggerating at all. That's a point that has to be made.

Mr Lougheed, you mentioned destreaming, and I'd like you to say a little more. We've had very little in the Legislature about the evaluation of that program. You seem to have your own personal interpretation of how it's changing things. There certainly is a body of people who think it should be into grade 10 as well, so it would be very helpful if you could give us how it's changed the students you work with and their daily lives.

Mr Lougheed: I would answer on a personal basis. I certainly wouldn't represent the Ontario Teachers' Federation in my views on destreaming. If they thought I was going to do that, I don't think they would have sent me.

Mrs O'Neill: But the thing is you're dealing with it.

Mr Lougheed: I've had an opportunity to go through a project that has been extremely successful, for a number of reasons, and therefore I am very positive about destreaming. I will give you one poignant example, because I believe we have to have specific outcomes to evaluate.

About two weeks ago, I was talking to my vice-principal and a young girl, Vanessa. I went in and Vanessa was sitting there. I've had quite a bit to do with her all year long, a very at-risk student, in my opinion, who has used many of our resources. She had a big smile on her face. "Mr Lougheed, I'm in all advanced next year. My elementary school told me I was basic. I never could get the questions right. I get all the math questions right, I can do my English and I'm in all advanced." To me -- and that's a single example; there are many others -- that is really what the whole object of this program was.

I have interpreted destreaming a little differently from some. To me, it is getting away from the idea that we have three different curriculums: an advanced curriculum, a general curriculum and a basic. We have one continuum of curriculum and kids enter that curriculum at different points in time with different skills and different capabilities, and our object is to get them all as high up the curriculum as we can. That is the basis on which we started and that is really the basis on which we have operated.

I have not bought into the fact that all classes must be heterogeneous and that all levels of kids in all things must be in the same classes. I don't agree with that, because I don't think it's very practical.


For instance, in French in our school, because we were relieved of 110-hour restraints, we don't have 110 hours for subjects. French in our school is taught 30 minutes every day. We're in a two-day schedule with 75-minute periods. The academics in the morning are about 60 minutes. We have 20 minutes of mentoring. Every student in our school goes through an hour of technology and they go through the six broad-based technologies. Every kid, girls and boys, is exposed to all of the broad-based technologies throughout the year. They have semestering in art and music and dramatic arts, and there is absolutely no choice in our program.

Because of the nature of the kids in my school -- you have to understand a little bit. It's not a typical school and there are places that can't do what we have done, and we may not be able to do it pretty soon if they continue to usurp the resources we've had. We have been able to maintain very reasonable class sizes. We have been able to totally integrate our special education teachers into the classroom, so almost all classes in grade 9 have a teacher of the subject plus either a special education teacher or an ed assistant in that classroom to deal with the learning difficulties of the kids.

We were the only school remaining in the east end of Toronto that was teaching basic level kids and we still retain a high number of those kids coming in, although they're not designated as basic any more. We also have 250 special education students who cover the complete range from gifted to very slow learners coming into the school. So we have a very diversified program.

I also had the fortune and opportunity to hire almost 50 teachers in the last five years since I've been there. Therefore, the staff was very committed and we reached a total consensus on what we wanted to do. The staff are very positive about the program. That also is not true of all schools in all places. So we're in a transition.

The other thing people must remember about destreaming is that we're only finished year one and it was all done backwards because of government decisions. It would have made sense, as we originally recommended as principals, to introduce destreaming in a 7, 8, 9 mode, begin in grade 7 and move through grade 8 and have kids coming into grade 9 who were part of the project, whereas we dumped it into grade 9 to start and 7s and 8s haven't caught up with us yet.

There are a lot of problems we have faced, but in our school I'm very positive about it. In fact, in grade 10 we are retaining an open-level concept in the technology. We're not going directly back to advanced-general, because we don't think that would be productive. Retaining destreaming in grade 10 in our situation probably would make sense.

But people have to keep in mind that it's a project. It has worked for specific reasons. I think those reasons are tied in with what we're talking about today, and that is providing resources that are properly used, that are accountable and where you can show outcomes. It is a massive problem to go through the whole province and provide the kind of resources I have, but then everyone doesn't have the same kind of kids.

I could talk about destreaming for a long time.

The Chair: That was a very fulsome answer. I apologize. I have Mrs Cunningham and Mr Martin. I want to make sure they have time for their questions and answers.

Mrs Cunningham: It was refreshing, I think, when Mr Lougheed said some things work in some schools and some work in others.

We all read that Toronto Star article in February -- it was the Globe and Mail, sorry -- with Jennifer Lewington. I must say that I was really proud to know you, and I wasn't a bit surprised. I think in this business so much has to do with people and their commitment and long hours and caring about kids, and you're a good leader.

But back to this one: Why do you think we can't have the kinds of programs you're talking about here, the Gateway Centre Project, starting from scratch? We work with the Family Court clinic in London, Ontario, but all these students we're working with are in school. Otherwise, we have storefront schools, and we have to track the students to see how successful they are. It started when I was on the school board, actually, in about 1976, and it's one of the forms of alternative schooling in London. Do you not have any of that here? You're looking for support for the project. To me, this is an Education-funded matter if they're students.

Mr Lougheed: Yes, we do have them in our schools. I'm not sure if we study how successful we are with these kids.

My experience is that kids coming back into school from detention are generally seriously behind. Their education is disrupted. It's often used in detention as a punishment, whether they get schooling or not. If they're away for eight months to a year, they're lucky if they get half a credit or a credit, and often it's a credit they already have; there's very little coordination between the two. That's where this idea started.

Secondly, they have a great many other needs if we want to keep them from repeating offences. This project is geared to a large extent to trying to provide those resources in an alternative setting.

I agree with you, Dianne, in the initial idea of the funding of the project, the teaching component, primarily, of the program would be provided by the board because yes, students do generate funds. But the other costs of the project are not funds which would currently be available under the current educational spending, certainly not in our board. We can't get enough to buy textbooks, let alone to expand a project like this and run it and rent a storefront.

It was a project that was evolved with the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry and with probation; these people have all been involved in the planning. With having a probation officer right on the premises where the kids go, and providing courses onsite in anger management and drug-alcohol abuse, which many of these kids are involved in, the whole idea of it is not to provide an alternative program, but to provide an alternative program which will enable them to come back into school on an equal playing field, because many of these kids come back not on a level playing field and they don't do well. The reasons they offend often have not been dealt with at that time and until they are, they're probably not going to fit into regular classrooms in regular schools.

Mrs Cunningham: We've had some success with our adult day school. Again, very controversial: You'll remember the ministry pulled the funding from it. You know those issues, but we've allowed many of our young offenders to attend that school -- not "allowed," they qualify for some of the reasons. It's just a point.

I think what you're really saying here is that with this collaboration, communication and continuity, the secret is to have something in place that people know about, that's been there for a good 10 years and you can look to it as a model of success.

Mr Lougheed: Just very quickly, the continuation was to have a linkage with the school, to have a storefront as well as programs in the school where there would be a linkage through the computer learning, to have kids who offend able to have their own disks which they would take where they're at, would take it to a detention centre or wherever they can find it, present it to someone there who would have the same facilities, in the ideal world, and who could very quickly ascertain where they are, plug them into the same programs which are now very good and very independent.

They don't require classroom teaching. The kids can learn by computer learning. They could progress through their time in detention, which varies from a few months to a few years, depending on what the kids do, and then when they came out, they could come back into a school and continue again on the same continuum.

These kids get lost in the system; they really do. You end up dealing with them. They get out of detention, they get into halfway homes, they get into group homes, they go to school A, they just get settled, and when their time in the group home is finished, they may go back to their own home or they may go to another group home and they change. So they change schools frequently, kids who have been in eight, 10, 12 secondary schools and if you look at the statistics and go through them, they have not been successful.

The other thing we were trying to through the Clarke was to do something we could really study and evaluate and at the end of the project say, "Yes, this works," or, "This doesn't work."

I think with so much of what we do in education and in other areas is that we pour millions of dollars after projects, but we never really have any hard statistics whether the thing really worked or whether kids were successful or whether a model group that was in the schools was the same success or less. We never really know whether it was a wise move or not, and this one, I think, has a chance to do just that, to monitor a group of kids. In terms of costs, if you study the costs of kids in these situations, if we were to make a difference in one out of four kids, the project would be paid for.

Mrs Cunningham: This school mentioned curriculum. You demand certain curriculum. For instance, you mentioned technology. One of the great complaints we're getting is that many of the students don't relate to their secondary school programs; they really want to have a job. You're in a school where you probably do relate more to the demands of students, but many of the students are so frustrated because they want more; they want a school-to-work program. I'm talking about the students we're talking about today.

Mr Lougheed: Part of that program is that the school would be a 9-to-9 school and that was exactly that. We know these kids and they actually do quite well in work situations. If we could provide that, we would have a flexible attendance in school. They won't go to school on a regular basis. They won't be there at 9 o'clock and go to class A at 9 in the morning. That's not going to work. This would enable them to have a work component to integrate into and come in on flexible hours to take their schooling, with the proper resources to deal with them and see if that makes a difference in the final analysis.


Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): Just a short comment on the comment that the reason money doesn't go to young people is because they don't vote: I was in front of a whole auditorium full of seniors last week at home during constituency week, and they were complaining that all the money was going to young people and none to them. Maybe you can come with me next time and explain to them how in fact they're wrong.

I guess that flows into my question. It's around the issue that, in my community anyway, anybody you talk to who is in the field of trying to deal with kids at risk will tell you that there's enough money in the system; it's just that it's not being spent in the right places and that we're not willing to make the changes necessary to coordinate and have cooperation and that kind of thing.

I also believe that by simply putting more and more professionals into the field and focusing solely on programs you can't resolve this either, that somehow you have to involve the whole community, that it has to be a communal effort. We haven't been very successful in bringing other players to the table, in my mind.

I remember developing programs in a past life and being very active in trying to put something new in there that did include some preventive-type things and community-development-type things. When the program came back and the money started to flow, it was more of the same: lots of money for the professionals to go out there and do the work and not so much money for what I call the paratroopers out in the trenches working with the kids in the evenings and weekends and bringing kids forward to schools to find out what was going on.

I'm wondering if you have any ideas, any suggestions as to how we get to actually redirecting that money and how we bring the larger community into the picture.

Ms Lougheed: I think one of the big problems is that most of the front-line workers don't know where that money is. Dianne made a comment one time when I was talking to her about, "That program would fit into the Ontario training" -- I'm not sure what it was. There was money in training. That's well and good, but when you're working in an agency or you're working in a school, then it's very difficult to know where the money exists. You could spend a lifetime trying to figure out which ministry in the government had a little bit of money and if your project really fit into that.

I don't know how you fix that, but I think it would be really helpful for front-line workers to know somehow how to access it and where it is. We spend our time working with the kids and being frustrated at the lack of funding, but knowing how to access it and where it is and where that particular project would fall is almost a full-time job. That's why I think a lot of people are hiring fund-raisers and people who know about getting funds and how to write letters, because there's a real trick to it, how to fill out a proposal. There's a lot of bureaucracy that you have to get through in order to access funding.

Mr Martin: My comment wasn't so much that we should access new funds or be looking at programs. I started my comments by saying many people think that there is enough money already in the system and that it's a matter of how we get our hands on it to redirect it so that it really does become effective and helpful.

I think back over the last three years and the struggle we had to get destreaming into the system and the fight we had with those who would resist change and who didn't see it as a good thing for students. I think there is enough money there; it's a matter of how we spend it. So it's not a matter of looking for new money, in my mind; it's a matter of redirecting what we're spending.

Ms Lougheed: But that's what I meant. So many times the people who want to access the money don't know where to ask for it. There probably is money there and it could be redirected for certain projects, but I think, if you understand what I'm saying, that it's just that the front-line worker doesn't know how to access it, doesn't know where it is.

Mr Lougheed: I think there are two things. One, when we talk about professional resources, I don't think either Margaret Ann or I are referring specifically to more teachers in the classroom. Many of the solutions for these kids lie in increased access to youth workers, to people who can make contact with them and can provide a continuity in their lives, and who have skills. Those people are out there and they're a lot less expensive than a teacher, to be honest. But with these kids, they probably are worth their weight in gold and we don't have enough of them. In agency care, I think you'll find the same thing.

The other thing is that we represent secondary schooling. In an ideal world, many of the solutions to the kids we deal with do not lie at the secondary level; they lie in early childhood and in early educational times. We have to do a better job. We can't afford to have kids who are capable of coming to school reading at a grade 2 level in grade 9. We have to look to what's happened to those kids in their early years and in kindergarten and grades 1 and 2. Those statistics are out there and we have to address that, because these problems, when we deal with them, are very entrenched and they're not easily solved.

The Chair: I regret that we're out of time, but I know I speak on behalf of the committee in thanking you both for coming today and for the material you've left with us. We appreciate it very much.


The Chair: I call on our next witness, from the Ontario Contract Custody Observation and Detention Homes Association, Mr Bob Thompson, president. Welcome to the committee.

Mr Robert Thompson: Thank you for the opportunity to meet with the standing committee. The Ontario Contract Custody Observation and Detention Homes Association, or OCCODHA.

The Chair: You should have a contest to find a new name.

Mr Thompson: That would be helpful. The name was developed about 10 years ago.

The members of OCCODHA are agencies that are, in your terminology, I suppose -- I was interested in your mandate -- agencies of last resort. It struck me, as I was thinking of what kind of message to present to you, that often the issues we are dealing with are not children in need of protection, but society's demands that it be protected.

I'm assuming that a number of your constituents have put that case very clearly to you. There is a great concern for escalating youth crime. There's a perception that young offenders are just little hoodlums who have figured out the system and are getting off scot-free and that society should be exerting its rights to be protected.

Those thoughts are very paramount in my mind as I sit before you today. If there is any message that I want to leave with you, it is that the youth the agencies of OCCODHA see are youth at risk. They are often victims. They are not to be excused in that status for what they have done, but there is a dual responsibility that we have as a community, and that is to protect society but also to look at the development of our youth. It's in that regard that I'm here before you today.


A bit about the agencies that deal with detention programs and custody programs: They range across Ontario. There is a myth that really there are no programs that work. I want to dispel that with you.

I heard one of your members talk about her affiliation with the London Family Court Clinic. Out of that clinic, Dr Alan Leschied has been funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services to do a review of treatment programs for young offenders. His findings, which are now published, are being used by a number of agencies across Ontario to identify particular risk factors in young offenders and to address programs to those factors. There are a number of programs that have been shown to be effective.

On the myth factor that is there, that nothing works, I would hope that in opportunities you have to deal with your constituents in that regard you would refer them to the literature and to what actually does work.

I want to emphasize the point around youth at risk, just a couple of comments. All adolescents have developmental needs. It's their job description to struggle between that dependent state and independence. My 15-year-old is in the midst of it, as I'm sure a number of your children and relatives have gone through that. What we find is that a number of young offenders also have special needs beyond those normal developmental ones that make their development very difficult.

These kids also have personal attributes and they live in situations, in circumstances that are associated with the criminal future. Ask anyone in the field or look at the reviews of the literature: child abuse, living in situations of abuse, inadequate parental supervision, low achievement in school.

I was very interested in the comments earlier in terms of programs that have developed in one area of this province. I happen to come from another area, Thunder Bay, and there are programs between schools and community agencies there that deal with that same factor, that low achievement in school is often affiliated with future crime, problems with peer relations and anti-social attitudes. These are kids at risk.

I want to speak particularly about youth who have been victims of abuse. I am director of an agency. Within our agency we've recently done a review, and in 90% of the social histories that we read kids who've ended up in custody or detention programs have been victims of abuse by someone in authority: their parent, a teacher, a trusted authority figure in the community. They've learned, by these personal violations, that what wins is power and dominance. They just haven't been able to develop healthy mechanisms to deal with that kind of conflict.

When I mention that scenario or picture, that is duplicated in every community across Ontario. As I talk with people who operate agencies in other communities, it's the same story.

We cannot excuse their behaviour because they've been victims of abuse. There's a tendency often for people who relate this information to do it in a very pessimistic way and the impression is given that we should mollycoddle these kids. It's the last thing in the world that an effective program should address itself to. Youth need to assume responsibility, healthy development. They're becoming adults.

I was in a forum on youth crime last week that the member for our area, Shelley Wark-Martyn, had organized. The tone of the conversation had gone towards blaming the parents. It started off kind of innocuously and all of a sudden, boom, everybody was saying the parents should be charged along with the kids and this sort of thing. In the audience was a youth who was currently in a custody setting, and I was so proud of him. He stood up and said: "I've learned I've got to be responsible for my behaviour. I've got a lot of anger towards my parents but I can't change them. I've got to sort my own life out and get on with it." I think that lad had learned a valuable lesson. He looked only about 14 but the maturity was there.

We cannot excuse that kind of victimization, but we need to realize its impact on youth and we need to realize the implications for some of the strategies for dealing with youth crime. I'll get to that in a moment. Our experience is that what works is respectful relationships: relationships, when you're dealing with victims of this nature, that empower youth. A focus on dominance or compliance is really counterproductive. All it does is elicit in a teenager a desire for revenge. It's simple.

The discussion about boot camps -- Manitoba is very close to my home and I've been following the boot camp proposals there -- sounds kind of tempting, initially: structure, high demand for compliance. I think the thought is that if you have a high degree of external control, it'll somehow translate into self-control. As the reviews of these experiences in the States and a little bit in Alberta are occurring, that's not the result that's occurring. What you're getting are power issues and abusive authority by those in authority; a counterproductive kind of approach to what was intended in the first place. Those kinds of structures seem to lend themselves to adolescents who have a certain predisposition to react to authority in those ways.

Secondly, I want to draw to your attention another way in which I think young offenders are at risk, and that's some of our judicial principles. The Young Offenders Act, when it first was envisioned, was to balance rehabilitation along with strong sanctions, and I see our system moving more towards principles of punishment: getting your just desert. There's great support for that in some sectors of the community, and the judges, I'm sure, are influenced by that. The emphasis seems to be on protecting society in the short term: Lock 'em up. What I see as the result is that in the longer term we're not going to achieve what we want: looking at longer-term rehabilitation of youth so they don't reoffend. That really is the name of the game. That's why I'm in business; that's why the agencies across Ontario are in business: to prevent youth from reoffending.

But there is this rootedness in the principles of punishment. The results are evident in the incarceration rates for youth: the highest rate of incarcerating kids in the industrialized world in Canada. In Ontario, 30% of the kids who are found guilty when they come before the courts get time; get either secure or open custody. That was last year and happens in every region across the province. Some regions are a little bit higher than others, but it's at least 30%.


If you look at the majority of youth who come before the courts, it's not for violent offences. It's for property offences, shoplifting, theft under $100 -- I don't downplay those -- offences related to wilful failure to comply, haven't met their probation terms and so on. These are not youth who pose a threat to the community or to the safety of other individuals, and yet we have a 30% record, when they show up, of locking them up.

The concern is that it's based on the wrong premise: that punishment will be a deterrence. Show me any teenager who thinks of the consequence in that nature as he's committing the crime. Most of these kids have very few skills in terms of cognitive development. Very little thinking goes between the impulse and the action. Jail has not proven to be a deterrent for kids who don't have the cognitive skills or kids who don't feel they have anything to lose.

The other concern we have is that custody is a very expensive proposition. On an annual basis, every time we lock a youth up for a year, you're spending $100,000 minimum; some places a bit more, some places a bit less.

Residential costs that the province bears, because the province provides the service for young offenders, eat up the majority of the budget. The custody costs eat it up. At that price tag, and as we anticipate changes to the Young Offenders Act that will lengthen sentences, the province's costs are going to escalate. The province has an obligation to pay those costs. Less money goes into where we feel the effort should be put. Prevention, treatment, aftercare is where we should be putting our money.

This leads me to the recommendations that I wanted to leave with you as a committee. We focus them around the Child and Family Services Act, which sees in its principles our youth as an investment. We would ask, as you deliberate with the public and in your own deliberations here within the Legislature, that you insist that sanctions alone do not work. There is a place for sanctions, but sanctions alone do not work.

Agencies of last resort, like ours, need to be resourced in terms of a rehabilitation agenda. Rehabilitation needs to get more strongly back on the agenda.

The province has the ability to make that part of the decision. The federal government defines the crimes and the parameters for how youth will be sentenced and so on, but how the treatment of youth will occur is the province's jurisdiction.

We have some thoughts in terms of family life, which we see as really essential in terms of prevention and return of youth to the community. Family violence really is a contributing factor. One of the initiatives that in our mind has contributed to reducing family violence is the crisis homes for women. We applaud that and we ask that those kinds of initiatives in communities where they are just developing -- and in a number of smaller communities they are -- be supported. It removes families from that context of violence; gives our youth, particularly our male youth, a sense of what is appropriate and what isn't appropriate.

The other comment I had that came to mind as you were in discussion with the previous presenter was in terms of provincial policy, the area of general welfare. There has been a change in the last year or so in terms of who is eligible to be a dependant within a family on welfare. When a youth comes into custody for what the judges call a short, sharp jab -- that's up to three months to teach them a lesson -- the youth is removed as a dependant from the family. That's new policy, to save dollars, I assume. The impact is, the family no longer contribute clothing to the youth. Probation has to pick it up. It's paid for anyhow. The family has no travel allowance to visit the youth: a bit of a hardship if the youth is across town or in another community. And the whole concept that the state has taken over for the youth is firmly implanted in the kid's mind and the family's mind. He's not part of that family any more.

I think there needs to be a relook in terms of there may be a point in terms of cost-efficiency when dependants need to be removed, but in most jurisdictions I gather now it happens from day one -- counterproductive, in my mind.

The other area is a bit of a contentious one, and I don't know whether you've been part of it yet or not, but the whole redistribution of dollars as population changes occur. The issue I'm talking about here is supporting communities, healthy communities. I know within the Ministry of Community and Social Services right now there are proposals that are coming forward to the minister that talk about the need to redistribute the existing dollars. A point you made earlier: There are no new dollars. Let's get real about that. The federal government is looking at cutting back its transfer payments. I mean, we've got to look at this. A number of concerns have been raised about child populations growing in some areas and the difficulty in servicing those areas by those communities, which is not only in Comsoc but within Health now and Education.

The issue, and I think we need to speak clearly to this, is that there is potential here for destabilizing a number of communities if this is not done with care. There are proposals to look at formulae, based on population and other factors, but there are studies that show the impact on a number of communities across the province as dollars are funded, and for some areas it would be between 30% and 50% cuts. So what I leave with you is a request to look very carefully in any ways you can at that redistribution process, because I think it will have a great impact on a number of communities.

That's my formal presentation. If there are questions, I'd be pleased to respond.

The Chair: Thank you very much, and thank you in particular for the recommendations that you've brought before us. We'll begin our questioning with Mr Jackson.

Mr Cameron Jackson (Burlington South): Mr Thompson, thank you. You've come a great distance, and you've prepared a written brief and your oral presentation mirrored it quite effectively.

You raised a lot of subject area within the Young Offenders Act and children at risk in conflict with the law, but I wonder if you were aware that the recent Ontario budget actually shows a huge increase in the transfer payment from the federal government under the Young Offenders Act. It's in fact a 33% increase. I saw the numbers the day of the budget and I haven't revisited them, but it was something like $60 million from last year is now $80-some million. Do you have any insight about why we're getting such a huge transfer? And is that money going to be directed, as you had implied it may be, for longer sentencing, or is it for cost-sharing of rehab programs? That number sticks in my mind, and I don't know why it is so huge. It's the largest single increase in the budget to a transfer agency, from what I understand.

Mr Thompson: I'm sorry, I don't know the reason for the transfer.


Mr Jackson: Perhaps, Mr Chair, we could ask research to pursue from the Treasurer or from the minister involved just why those dollars were transferred in such large numbers. We're pleased, but I think a committee with this mandate would be most interested in just what planning is going on with that. It's a 33% increase, a huge increase. I like the fact that you've been able to give us recommendations, Mr Thompson, but I'm also interested in knowing about the disproportionate number of young offenders who are female and the disproportionate amount of sexual assault, incest and abuse which is associated with that cohort of children in this province, and whether we shouldn't also be talking about child victim/witness assistance programs, which only exist in two pilot projects in this province.

If you're sexually assaulted as a child in London, Ontario, for example, twice as many young people or children end up in court and twice as many get convictions of their assailants from a judge and a jury. This is not the case in almost the entire province outside of Toronto and London. I wonder if you could comment. Your reference to family violence seems to focus on domestic violence and that the children are introduced to this, yet there's this compelling statistic about young females who are becoming young offenders. I've seen statistics about the number of street prostitutes, for example, who emerge from this cohort.

Mr Thompson: The number of girls in custody is considerably less than the number of boys.

Mr Jackson: I understand that. But do you not agree that the largest single identifiable factor among young girls is this factor of abuse, whereas that is not the case with boys who have been sexually assaulted or physically abused? That's my understanding of the current statistics in this province that I receive through children's aid society statistics and others.

Mr Thompson: Yes, that's true; in terms of girls, almost 100%. But in terms of boys as well, our findings are that a number of them have been physically or sexually --

Mr Jackson: It's high, just not nearly as high as with the girls.

Mr Thompson: That's right. The victim assistance program is in a sense a preventive program, in terms of them escalating through the system, in that early on in the system someone advocates on their behalf so that justice is done. So often it just goes underground with them if there aren't programs like that. They end up on the street; it's intolerable to live at home.

Mr Jackson: In the interests of time, thank you very much, Mr Thompson.

Mr Larry O'Connor (Durham-York): I appreciate you coming and making your presentation today. The recommendations give us some focus in considering what you've presented. I appreciate a lot of the thoughts you've put into it.

Quite often, as politicians, we get approached by individuals looking for funding for one more program: "We know times are tight and we're only asking for one program to be funded." I think it's safe to say that across the country people look to the Young Offenders Act as the real problem, that our young people have gone all wrong ever since the Young Offenders Act came out and that what we need to do is lock them up for longer periods of time. I don't see that as a solution or dealing with the real problems we have before us.

But professionals quite often come to us and say, "But we want more dollars for our program." How do we then go out to the community and say, "It's time you talked to two or three other people and put together something that might be more comprehensive for the community and serve the needs of the child, perhaps the whole family, perhaps bringing the family and the child together to try to look at some of the causes of the problem"?

Your recommendations 1 and 3 almost dovetail. One says we have to recognize the need for the resources, and the last one acknowledges that there are very few new resources to be had. In fact, quite often in the Legislature our colleagues are telling us to cut, cut, cut at the same time. It's not always practical.

Mr Thompson: I think the name of the game in the next few years is integration of agencies' efforts: school systems working with custody operators, working with children's mental health centres.

There's a lot of anxiety within the field of service providers that there is going to be an emphasis on custody alone, that the rehabilitation emphasis is disappearing. I hear it in conversations with the judges in youth courts in their area. To get tough, in their minds, is the answer.

Mr O'Connor: Maybe another recommendation from you, one that's not here, would help us in the report this committee will write to present to the Legislature and to the people who are concerned about this issue in the province. How would you present it in such a way that we could go to the agencies that feel: "We know there aren't more dollars, but we're not the one you should be trying to integrate with something else. Leave us alone and go integrate someone else"? The reality of today is that there aren't the new dollars. There is a need to do some integrating, which doesn't mean a lower quality of service. It means recognizing that there aren't a lot of new dollars out there, and let's try to refocus some of those dollars and let's take a look at the whole need. Can you help us with a recommendation, or just some thoughts that we can formulate later on?

Mr Thompson: I think communities need to take some ownership for this. I don't think it's the ministry's alone. I know there are local planning groups developing under the auspices of the Ministry of Community and Social Services, but there needs to be a clear direction given to them in terms of: "Rehabilitation is a possibility. Come up with proposals. These are the frameworks in which we will consider them." There has to be ownership by the communities, but the communities need some direction in terms of a willingness to proceed with rehabilitation.

Mrs O'Neill: I'd like to ask you one question, and you already have begun the answer. You said you feel that the new changes -- I presume regulatory changes are the ones you're referring to -- are counterproductive. Could you say a little more about the way things have changed and why you feel they're counterproductive?

Mr Thompson: Was that my reference to general welfare?

Mrs O'Neill: It was your reference to the role of parents, I think, that now the relationship is different between the parent and the child in custody.

Mr Thompson: My concern is with how the provisions of the Family Benefits Act are administered. In a number of jurisdictions, youth who come into custody through that order are removed as dependants from the parent, even if it is for a fairly short period of custody. The impact of that, in the whole treatment program and the philosophy of involving parents, is that some parents are not able to provide clothing, are not able to visit their youth, because they don't have the wherewithal to do that. And there are no interim provisions, even if a youth is out of the home, of perhaps a 30% assessment or something like that. It's very black and white. A number of parents are having to make choices between their youth, their son who is in custody, and their three other kids. They're saying: "We've got these three other kids. We have to dismiss this youth."

Mrs O'Neill: What were you saying about 30%?

Mr Thompson: That could be an option if they don't have the full costs of room and board for their youth, that there might be provisions for a youth who comes into custody for a lesser amount as a dependant. But at this point it is not that kind of administration of the policy.

Mrs O'Neill: Thank you for bringing that to our attention.

The Chair: I want to thank you very much for coming down. Somebody mentioned that you probably have come from the farthest away, from Thunder Bay. We always appreciate that.

Mr Thompson: It's still in Ontario.

The Chair: Before calling our last presenters today, I'd just note for members of the committee who may be wondering what happened to the Ontario Association of Children's Mental Health Centres that we are trying to determine that, but we'll work out another time with them. Clearly there has been some miscommunication.



The Chair: Our next presenters are from the Provincial Council of Children's Services Co-ordinating and Advisory Groups: Mr Michael Cushing, who is the executive director of the Niagara Children's Services Committee, and Mr John Sheehan, the executive director of the Peterborough Children's Services Group.

Gentlemen, welcome to the committee. We appreciate your both being able to be here today. While this is the last submission of the day, I can assure you that we are as interested in your observations on this very complex issue as we were when we began several hours ago.

Mr Michael Cushing: Thank you, Mr Chairman. As you've seen from the two handouts, it's a presentation in two parts. I am here on behalf of the provincial council rather than any individual local children's planning group. My colleague Mr Sheehan will be speaking after me, bringing some of the more general points I'm making to a local level and speaking from his experience with the children's services planning group in Peterborough.

It's not my intention, given your time frame, to take you through all the paper you've just received. In particular, there's an attachment on the end that is entitled Presentation to the Ministry of Community and Social Services, dated 1992. I believe that will afford more detail on the local children's services planning groups for members who want to follow up from today's presentation. As indicated, my points are fairly general.

By way of introduction, the Provincial Council of Children's Services Groups is the umbrella organization of roughly two dozen community planning bodies that have received recognition as advisers to the Ministry of Community and Social Services under the Child and Family Services Act. The number's a little slippery. Some of the groups are unfunded and some are not able to prevail for the long haul. In other words, some of them unfortunately have come and gone. That number of two dozen is conservative, and I'm confident in it.

The provincial council itself, as an umbrella organization, is unfunded. It works to assist the member groups with matters of common purpose, common concern. We do that through the combined efforts of people volunteering to serve at a provincial level, and we also do that in partnership with the Ontario Social Development Council.

The local groups are as diverse as the communities they represent. Within common purposes of improving the range of services and supports available to kids and families in their communities, the respective groups engage in planning, coordination, community development and community problem-solving as local conditions require. Prior to the establishment of the Child and Family Services Act, this initiative began with Ontario's children's services committees in 1978-79. From the glances I've had at Hansard, you've heard a bit about the history of this initiative in your earlier hearings.

Over subsequent years, the number of groups has multiplied considerably and the work has grown to embrace broader purposes, in some cases, than solely the concerns of children and families. While some of the groups struggle along with virtually no financial support, others have achieved greater levels of funding, often from a number of sources, including other levels of government. Unlike more standardized provincial initiatives, such as the district health councils, the names of the coordinating and advisory groups vary by community. Mr Chairman, I know in your community it's known as the community services council. There are many variations on the theme across the province, all of them representative of the same initiative, though, and with the same reference point to the Child and Family Services Act. As indicated earlier, there's further background information on the groups appended to this submission.

I have some observations in respect to the terms of reference this standing committee has set for itself.

There hasn't really been adequate time to formalize the consensus of all the provincial groups around this commentary, so I have to take responsibility for any failings or inaccuracies. I know, though, that all the groups would want to celebrate your interest in prevention. We recognize that legislators, like everyone else concerned for the wellbeing of kids and their families, are vulnerable to the necessity of attending to acute and chronic issues of service shortages and service shortcomings. To get out in front of those demands to examine the challenge of ensuring the health and wellbeing of our children is a daunting and a critical challenge.

In our respective communities, local groups know the potential for prevention to rest in systems more far-reaching than those such as child welfare, child and family intervention and child development, the systems that operate under the aegis of the Child and Family Services Act. Broader systems, such as health education, child care and social assistance, also possess greater resource capability than the CFSA program areas. The potential for significant accomplishment in the area of prevention lies in the greater coordination of these broader systems at the community level. Notwithstanding MCSS's identification as the lead ministry for children, we urge you to maintain a broader focus.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services' emerging policy framework on children's services shows real evidence of providing an excellent template for improved coordination and increased cost-effectiveness among the Child and Family Services Act programs. Children's services groups have had the opportunity to participate in the policy development process. It's been a very inclusive process, drawing in varied perspectives and varied interests, and the apparent policy directions of the Ministry of Community and Social Services in relation to local planning have been well received by local planning groups.

Perhaps inevitably, though, that ministry's been reluctant to frame policy that goes beyond the embrace of its own program areas. The experience of local groups, however, has taught us that local planning efforts must go beyond a Child and Family Services Act focus and must incorporate the serious participation of service providers relating to other ministries and funding sources, as well as service consumers and local citizens. To be successful, particularly in relation to prevention, the children's services local planning initiative must have broad interministerial support and interministerial understanding.

As the standing committee addresses the concept of at-risk children and families, our experience would suggest that in the current climate of social change and economic restructuring, many Ontario children and families are, to varying degrees, in peril. As food bank operators have reminded us, even traditional two-parent, middle-class families are one divorce or one job loss away from destabilization and the risk of unsatisfactory outcomes for their children. The recent report Yours, Mine and Ours, from the Premier's Council on Health, Wellbeing and Social Justice, provides an invaluable analysis of risk and the need for broad population-based approaches to the support of Ontario's children and families.


Arguably, the service systems for children and families across the province are both inequitably funded, if one compares communities, and inadequately funded in at least certain service streams. We recognize, particularly in the present context of constraint on public resources, that this conclusion is disturbing -- disturbing perhaps particularly in that it is so hard to grapple with and to take action on. In our experience, however, it's doubtful that even heroic accomplishments in integration and reform of CFSA services will ensure that certain service streams can adequately address local need. Accomplishment in the area of prevention is thus that much more imperative.

There's much to be done and presenters before committee will, I'm sure, be urging your consideration of a number of recommendations. Presumably, you can extrapolate from my concerns to this point some of the concerns of local planning groups. Overall, however, we would encourage your awareness of the necessity, and we believe it's an absolute necessity, of local planning infrastructure if Ontario communities are to develop the supports and services our children and youth require.

That infrastructure, through the wide range of local planning bodies province-wide, is to a great extent in place now. For many years those bodies were in effect orphaned in provincial policy and mostly lacking -- not without exception, but generally inadequately resourced, so they were mostly lacking -- in the funding they required. We would suggest that investment and policy support from several ministries, rather than solely MCSS, be considered. With adequate resources, more can be accomplished, and such accomplishment is ever more crucial.

On a final note, one wonders if Ontario policy and programs relating to the development of kids and youth wouldn't draw increased and more consistent support if the goal of raising healthy and capable children were recognized as an economic as well as a social imperative. The false dichotomy of social policy and economic policy gets in the way of clear thinking. To quote from a recent article by Drs Dan Keating and Fraser Mustard:

"The most critical challenge in this period of diminished resources will be to maintain a good social environment for children at risk.... Failure to invest in families with children has potential costs to society in the form of less healthy and more poor functioning adults. Adequate support, in contrast, not only reduces those burdens but also sharply improves the prospects for future economic growth."

I am going to turn to my colleague Mr Sheehan. For my part, on behalf of the provincial council, thank you for your interest and attention.

Mr John Sheehan: Thank you very much. My name is John Sheehan. I'm the executive director of the Peterborough Children's Services Group, which is a children's services advisory group originally founded in 1979, so it was one of the original planned children's services advisory groups when that plan involved divestment of funding and a number of other responsibilities. It was restructured in 1987 to serve one county rather than three, and we presently serve Peterborough county. We're driven by a board of community members, including parents and consumers as well as service providers.

I thought you might be interested, because I think you're struggling with very much the problem we struggle with on a local level of setting priorities, if we shared some of our experience in the last few years with that exercise. We've been at the centre of that in a community that's well known for its cooperation and caring, particularly in terms of collaborative work.

I'm pleased to say in terms of our group that service providers have really been at the leadership of making change: this shift in our board, for example, from being primarily a group of senior administrators to agencies, which many of these were 10 years ago, to there being at present a plan for two thirds of our members to be community members and only one third providers. We're almost at that point at this time.

I think what we've gone through in our community, and I've outlined it in here, is to say there are many ways of looking at children at risk. Obviously, it's not difficult to run through the figures. They're devastating. Our poverty rates have increased tremendously. The number of families that we have on social assistance is extremely high. Our unemployment rate is 14%; 14% of our families live in poverty, and it's probably higher than that. The welfare rolls are as stated. I think the nature of the type of family in Peterborough is changing, as it is in every community in Canada, and we have families that are more subject to the stresses of the 1990s in economic terms, particularly single-parent situations.

In terms of children at risk, in 1990, as an organization, we did an extensive study of our community, applying the risk factors that Dr Dan Offord developed with the Ontario Child Health Study and estimated the number of children in Peterborough county with key risk characteristics. You'll see the conclusions on page 5.

What that shows is the estimated number of children in Peterborough county that might be considered at risk; that is, they are in particular situations that are associated with, using a broad population base approach to looking at children at risk, significant mental health problems. Those are, as are well known from the Ontario Child Health Study, being on social assistance, being in subsidized housing, having a low income, female single parent if the parent is also poor -- without the poverty situation, it's very similar to the situation of most other people -- family dysfunction, which is the highest group. Then those children who happen to have chronic medical illnesses, developmental handicaps and other functional limitations, mobility and whatever, are at high risk for mental health problems.

I used mental health as the basis because that was the basis in the Ontario Child Health Study and also there's a great deal of overlap between those children who are at risk for mental health problems and those children who need other services. We're very much aware that the children run across all our services and the same child may be in many. It's not uncommon to have 10 contacts or 10 different agency workers or whatever in some situations, or contacts of some kind.

I think it's very easy when you get into these figures to become, frankly, quite depressed and despairing as to our ability to cope, particularly as our resources have diminished over the last little while. As they've diminished and demands have gone up, our agencies have been experiencing tremendous upheavals.

I put in a few agency statistics just to indicate this; for example, between 1987 and 1991 referrals to the children's aid society for brief service went up 250%. By 1992 and again in 1993, this figure went up another some 40%. Since the beginning of 1990, the CAS has identified an average in our community, and this is for Peterborough county alone, of 12 cases of child abuse a month. A case here is defined as any situation which is significant enough, in their judgement, to report to the child abuse registry. It doesn't mean that they are necessarily accepted by the registry, but important enough and significant enough to report.

A quick check of some of our children's mental health programs indicates referral increases in the range of 90% for some programs between 1991-92 and the end of 1993-94, and there are 30 to 40 children on the two programs I checked with on the waiting list for waiting periods of up to three months. In fact, that was the norm in one of the programs. All report a significant increase in the type of severity of the situations presenting to them over the last few years.

What's happened in our community resources during this time? Obviously, and I think we're all aware of this, the resources to the communities are diminishing not increasing during this time of demand, although there are exceptions in the child welfare, where there are mandatory services.


Even in that situation, for example, just outlining some current situations, our local children's aid society has been unable to convince the Ministry of Community and Social Services to offset its outstanding deficit of $49,000, which is a current deficit this year, and it has just announced the layoff of 16 to 17 full-time positions, or 20% of its staff. They may yet have to find another $250,000, given whether that 2% economic constraint program goes through or doesn't. One of the staff who was laid off who was particularly important to us, I think, was someone who facilitates treatment for children who have been abused elsewhere in the community.

Most children's services agencies have lost funding. Our agency lost funding for our child abuse forum, for example, which really was staffed to 50 volunteers, prominent volunteers in the community who've worked for 14 years to promote the better identification, improvement in treatment networks and improvement of reporting protocols between school boards and the CAS and the police.

All these things have been generated by this volunteer group, which had in the last few years funding of approximately $40,000 a year. We lost that funding. It was funded with fiscal dollars, and in the last few years it was the money that someone at the ministry could pull, that the area office could pull from a variety of programs and keep us going. When things tightened down, those funds disappeared and the program went with it.

In terms of the other sectors, the city has just cut its director of recreation and probably is moving into a more consultative role vis-à-vis recreation services. The Peterborough County Board of Education is one of the boards identified in the province for $2.5 million less in provincial grants, and that combined with the reduced tuition income will mean a shortfall this year of $4 million.

On that list, let me tell you, are very clearly the social work services department, the behavioural services department, the enhancements, all those services that support those at high risk in our schools and make a tremendous difference.

I heard one of our agency people in a meeting the other day say, "You know, the cases I'm most successful with are the cases referred by the social workers from the school board," because they know why they're coming, they're well prepared, they have entry back into the system when they go out. It works.

Losing those connections -- but the trustees don't always understand that, even if the staff do. It's a very difficult situation for them to face, and they're not at the top of the list. But I think it was a difference between them disappearing if we only raised taxes locally by 2% versus 4%.

What can we do and what are we doing? Locally we made up our minds some time ago, folks, about two, three years ago, with the Children First document. That was really a seminal document for our organization and for many, I think, of the children's services planning group. We've been attached to that theme ever since. We'll never have enough money to serve high-risk children and children with mental health problems in the way we want to, using the systems we have.

The systems we have are outdated, mismatched styles of service, all those kinds of concepts that I'm sure you've heard about. We'll not have enough money and we know it. We also know we're not doing the right things at the right times and that we need to integrate, not just across our own children's services but across health, education and recreation. If we can't put that together, we can't do our job.

From that point is where we move to changing our board structure entirely, moving very much from yes, let's concentrate on maintaining the dollars we have for those children at risk, let's make sure they're used properly and with priority, but let's make sure we're working with the communities to identify what they need to raise healthy children. We cannot start with children at risk.

We very much moved into a partnership with parents, a partnership with education departments and whatever. We have signed agreements between all the children's services agencies, the boards of education, the recreation department in the municipality to move on integration. We had a proposal in to the ministry three years ago for some funding to help us move that cross-ministry; it disappeared.

So we've been operating. We just go with it. We've been trying to do and have been doing some very exciting and very innovative work, and we're very pleased with our results.

What has been really exciting, I think, is to work with parents and with our neighbourhoods in terms of saying to them: "What do you need? What do you want?" They give us very different answers than the professionals do in the agencies. I think the professionals have come around a great deal. We have agencies like Kinark Child and Family Services in our community, for example, which has redirected residential resources and, combined with some resources from the children's aid, has created a program called Families First.

Families First does what the families want them to do. They essentially direct their service. They say, "This is what we need to keep this child out of residential care." That's it; we do it. The agency does it. We've changed our thinking to be very much in tune with what used to be the Children First document. It's now being echoed, I think, in Yours, Mine and Ours. I don't know what the order of that is.

I think we're now doing some very creative work in a couple of neighbourhoods, a rural one and an urban one, with the help of the Laidlaw and the Lawson foundations, which are helping us do some experimental work in there, to say: "You tell us how you want services delivered. We're going to change the whole system in Peterborough county to match what's happening there." We have the service providers with us on that. They're on our committees, they're working with us. We have our neighbourhoods there.

In our suggestions and our recommendations I'll try to be as brief as possible. We know the big fix. I don't think the big fix is going to work for our community as it is for any other community. I think you were on the right track and you've had before you all the things we needed and we continue to need: child care reform, reasonable and stable income for families, the children's allowance proposal, decent housing, a commitment to removing barriers to cross-sector integration. What happened to the secretariat for children and youth? Where did it go? These were all the supports we need to move forward.

We're saying that what we think it takes is the same thing it took for us: Jump in, make a commitment and do some bits and pieces, if nothing else. Do it incrementally. It just has to move forward one step at a time, slowly and in intimate sync with different communities. Different communities are going to define their needs somewhat differently, just as families do, but I think just that moving forward incrementally. I'll stop there.

The Chair: Thank you both very much. There's a lot of food for thought, a lot of ideas there. We're not going to have the time to pursue them all as much as we'd like, but we do have a few minutes for questions.

Ms Carter: I'll concentrate on John's part of it, since that's where I come from. I think we all share this concern that children are vital and should have priority and their needs must be attended to. I think we agree that the broad prevention, rather than waiting for children to get into trouble, is obviously the main tactic.

I think this government is doing that in the sense that we're putting a lot of money into social housing. We've increased day care spaces. We're trying to get people back into jobs, although that, of course, is the intractable problem, as everybody knows.

I also agree with you very much that Peterborough is known for cooperation and caring. I'm for ever coming across proof of that in the different agencies that I have dealings with. I see the number of volunteers involved and, as I say, the caring that is there.

There are just a couple of points I wanted to comment on. You mentioned the children's aid society, and I know there are real problems there. I don't think it's just funding. I think there are problems between management and the union and I understand there is going to be some kind of onsite review to find out just what the problems are there.


Also, you mentioned that the board of education is getting $2.5 million less. I just want to point out that's not a cut; that's the operation of a system which has been in place, I understand, for quite some time where the property tax base of the whole province is reviewed -- I think it's every five years -- and the share of the pie that each area gets varies automatically as a result of the findings on that basis. This wasn't something that should have altogether taken the school board by surprise.

I guess the corollary there is that the areas that don't come out of that too well are the ones that, theoretically at least, have a little bit more in their tax base than another area might have. I understand this time it was the Toronto area that went down. They had to take a little bit more of the pie.

Those are just a few comments, but certainly I think you people are doing a good job and I agree with you that the Ontario child income program is something we would like to see in place. I understand it has been deferred through lack of funds, but I think everybody in the government would like to see that as soon as possible, and some of the other things that you suggest.

Mr Ron Eddy (Brant-Haldimand): Back to the subject of the children's services advisory groups, I appreciate your presentations and hearing about the work of the children's services committees in the various communities. I well remember when they were started by the previous government. There were nine pilot projects, or something like that, established. That doesn't matter; that's history.

You have the children's services committees operating in some communities and I know there are social planning councils operating in some communities. What I really want to know is, how do they work together and what should be the relationship?

You said that the provincial secretariat is gone, so it looks like you have to work locally in order to accomplish, and you are in many ways. What's the relationship between you, the committees, and the local children's aid societies and what should be the relationship? Do you see the area health councils as being a model for community planning councils and children's services committees? What do you see as the proper way of handling this? I appreciate the job you're doing and I think it's needed and I think some of the communities that don't have such committees should have them operating.

Mr Sheehan: I'll answer first and then I'll leave some time. I can tell you what's happening in Peterborough. We have a district health council and we have a social planning council.

Mr Jackson: And a children's aid society.

Mr Eddy: Yes, of course all communities have CASs.

Mr Sheehan: I used to be president of the social planning council, so I know that scene very well.

We have a planning alliance. We have an agreement, an alliance between our planning bodies that works quite well. We meet monthly, we share agendas, we make sure we're not overlapping in different areas. We sit on each other's committees when there is overlap. We work fairly closely together in our local community in terms of the planning.

We have also met provincially -- and I'll let Michael take off on this -- the district health councils, social planning councils and the children's services group, on our own initiative, to sort out this relationship. I think you probably are aware that the tension that precipitated this was the move to have the district health councils move into the social planning area with the long-term care reform, which none of us were very pleased about, actually.

Mr Jackson: You're no further enlightened about either, as a matter of fact.

Mr Sheehan: We're concerned. For example, locally we're concerned because children are part of that long-term care reform and we can't even be at the table. The way it was laid out, it has to be individuals who are members. We're not even in the program as planning partners to put those advisory committees together.

Mr Cushing: I'm probably only going to be embellishing what John had to say. Particularly in communities where resources devoted to local planning are scant to begin with, the last thing any of us engaged in the process can afford to be is proprietary or exclusive about mandate.

As John says, there's activity under way now to try and sort out respective roles and functions with social planning councils which emerged usually or in most cases across Ontario at a different time without any root in government, as the children's groups tended to have in the Ministry of Community and Social Services, and very often found themselves pursuing issues of social planning and advocacy on broader issues, many of them federal, constitutionally.

But social planning councils, like the children's services groups, vary across the province. The common denominator is that in any of our communities where both exist, the only sane way to operate is together and to work it out together.

Then, as John says, the district health council model is a different model. It's of course Ministry of Health driven and the appointments to the district health councils are Ministry of Health appointments, so that in terms of the jargon of planning that we tend to use, we don't see those as community planning bodies in so far as their appointments aren't from the community, which isn't to disparage their work. In fact, in all of our communities, we're trying very hard to work as closely as we can with the health councils. Sometimes we find that the marching orders they operate under do cut us out when we believe there's a role, particularly with regard to developmentally handicapped kids and other kinds of chronic conditions that are included in long-term care.

But the long and short in my answer is, some Ontario communities have the benefit of a health council, a children's services group and at least one social planning council. I think in virtually all of those communities we're trying to figure out how to put our actions together for greater effect.

Mr Jackson: My question was going to be quite similar to Mr Eddy's, so I'll make it a supplementary.

I'm not really hearing from you anything new or unusual or particularly guiding of this committee. I mean, consultation's a wonderful thing and coordination's even better, but issues around primacy are critical issues. We had a brief exposure to it in Children First in terms of looking at which ministries have responsibilities and what new entities should be formed if the government's going to resolve it.

Long-term care is the example, it's almost a horrific example, where we had too many ministries involved. We've scaled it down and yet its implications out in the communities for the decision-making entity which will consult and coordinate -- it's quite frankly a mess and it's way behind schedule and mired in controversy. We shouldn't proceed to do that in children's services if we're going to do exactly what we just did in long-term care.

I'm frustrated. I want to hear from people. I have my own ideas, but that's what governments have been doing for the last eight years: tell you how we would change it. I really haven't heard from anybody what models we should be working on. You have said that each community's different. I buy that. But I'm trying to hear from people like yourselves, front-line workers who are doing assessments, who are looking at the numbers, who are looking at the retrenched services, the cuts, saying to any government, "This ministry should get the hell out of this business; this ministry over here should take more responsibility."

School boards should not be able to, at a whim, get in and out of services for high-risk children; hospitals shouldn't dump it because of -- and all these are backed up by ministries' indecision.

Forgive me if I sound harsh in this.

Mr Sheehan: I'm delighted to answer.

Mr Jackson: For nine years I've heard the same argument. I'd like someone to tell me which ministry programs should we be getting out of or transferring across. We did it with long-term care. Not everybody's happy. But I'd like to hear how we do it in children's services and what you think. If you were the deputy minister today and you were whispering in the minister's ear, what would you tell them to do?

Mr O'Connor: What a speech.

Mr Jackson: It's not a speech. Just a minute, Mr O'Connor; it's not a speech.


Mr Jackson: No, you interjected, Mr O'Connor. It's not a speech. That was a legitimate question.

The Chair: Order.

Mr Jackson: I'm frustrated because I agree with everything they said.


Mr Jackson: When will you stop interrupting, Mr O'Connor? You haven't even been here for most of these meetings.


The Chair: Order, please.

It is the end of the day, but any reflections you have on that question and issue would be helpful.

Mr Sheehan: I think the task is an extremely difficult one and it's one I actually, in reviewing one of our reports, saw that we addressed at one point, and that is, how do you translate needs into services and how do you prioritize? I think it's an extremely difficult one because in actual fact it's not a direct line. There are cultural, there are political, there are economic realities in each community that determine how that gets translated. I think in long-term care reform, if you take that as a process, originally it was the community that was going to decide what that multiservice agency looked like, or whether it had a multiservice agency, or how it did its service. That was the original plan. I worked for a hospital at that point so I was very aware of that. I think what happened was, then that got translated into some one-solution kind of thing that the community won't buy.

If you ask the parents, and we did recently, how they saw the reformation of children's services -- and these are people who are using them and may have two or three children -- they would say, "We don't want a superagency. For God's sake, don't give us a superagency. What we want is a little more information, a little better access," this kind of thing. That's what I'm talking about as incremental. We as planning organizations are gearing the needs and the services as we go in real concert with the community. I'm sorry; that's tough, it's indirect and it's small, but it works, and that's what's happening in our community and it's working in our community and I'm really excited about it.

Despite all this misery that we're dealing with and all those cuts, those agencies are excited; those parents are excited. There's a tremendous energy, at this point, from taking that, "Oh my God, how are we going to do this?" to saying: "How do we prevent some of this happening? How do we look at all the assets in our community?" What we need, in terms of the ministry, is to get it out of the way in terms of some of this interministry stuff, get their act together and start talking to each other.

When child and family services doesn't know what's going on in child care because it's happening in the cabinet and we can't find out from the policy people, when we're meeting around policy, what's going on because they don't know, they don't talk to each other, that's bizarre, because on the community level, if we don't have good child care, we have a lot of problems downstream. So you've got to get it together. I don't know the answers at this level. You know the answers at this level.

Mr Cushing: I realize that my presentation was somewhat oblique and so I had in my back pocket a list of blunter things. I'm trying to decide how many of those to give in a whole bunch.

Mr Jackson: This is your moment, and you're on TV.

Mr Cushing: The first of them: I read in the Hansard you heard from Ms Telford from Ontario's Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse. If I read correctly, she urged you not to be overly distracted by the Big Bang theory, the kids' authority concept. We'll preoccupy ourselves with issues of devolution of authority, with issues of adequate accountability for fiscal authority.

I was the director of one of the initial pilot children's services committees. At a certain point they foundered, if for no other reason, on the fact that it meant major legislative change to turn things over to the municipalities. If we do that to ourselves again I fear we'll founder again. There are a lot of good ideas short of that kind of Big Bang approach. So my first comment is, please don't get too distracted with the vehicle of change.

The second comment is one I've already made: The action is well beyond the Ministry of Community and Social Services, as important as it is. Somehow, Ontario and its respective ministries collectively have to assert the priority of kids. Rather than identify a lead ministry, let's identify a government.

A third comment is the report card concept which is in Yours, Mine and Ours, an Ontario report card and a local report card. We feel that groups like ours are potential vehicles for local report cards. There are other groups like social planning councils that contribute as well, but there's something very specific in the calling to account that lies potentially in the report card concept. For us as a province, for individual communities, there's something quite exciting there. It holds a mirror up to us that tells us what we mostly know, but we read it in passing government reports. What we mostly know is that we're not doing as well as we should be. We know it from the dropout rates, we know it from the young offenders custody rates, we know it all over the place, and yet somehow we duck it. The big report card concept does seem to have something that I think is quite valuable.

I think around this table we probably have members of the Legislature who have cut through some of the jargon and mystification that goes with kids' services. But I think all members have to avoid being distracted by program specifics and by the sense that there may be CAS kids and young offenders and developmentally handicapped kids and that somehow these are exclusive categories. In fact, these are our kids, and they can turn up in one or another or many of these systems at any given time. Again, the need for action on all fronts.

To use a specific case in point, a situation I'm sure many of you would be familiar with as parents: A child whose learning needs go unattended to, particularly if there's a specific learning disability of some kind, in all likelihood will turn up in the special ed system of the school board. If the service received does not meet with success, the child's frustrations and the child's anxiety in all likelihood will emerge as an emotional or a behaviourial problem. That child will, in many communities, then be in the children's mental health system.

As an adolescent, or a post-12-year-old, that child acting out continuing frustrations becomes nailed as a young offender. There are Ontario Family Court judges -- and one that I copresented with a number of years back, Judge Steinberg in Hamilton, suggested that a preponderance of the cases coming before his court are frustrated kids with learning disabilities.

I can carry on the notion. We know that the families under stress from those kids may split apart. They may turn to a CAS for voluntary help, or they may split apart and inadvertently neglect their child. Their frustrations in turn -- we all saw the television show The Trouble With Evan, I assume. These are systems; people get angry with one another. CASs end up involved in these situations as well. The same child can turn up in any or all of these systems, very often simultaneously.

We do know a great deal of what needs to be done. Having encouraged you to not preoccupy yourselves with the big authority concept in Children First, please look seriously at the service model in Children First. The most normalized settings, the pre-paid, pre-capitalized settings, community-by-community across this province to deliver kids' services are schools, and I would add doctors' offices to that too.

Dr Offord, who if you haven't heard from I assume you will, in his research shows that our specialized kids' mental health systems very often don't deal with most of the kids' mental health problems. In fact, those kids are dealt with and usually not as adequately as anyone would like, but they're seen by teachers and they're seen by family doctors. If that's where the kids are being seen, let's organize our service systems around those people and their capacity to assist.

We know a great deal of what needs to be done. To the extent that we don't know all of what needs to be done, the Ministry of Community and Social Services innovation fund, announced by Mr Silipo on May 10 or 12, I think, was taken as a very good sign by communities across the province. There's a concern that the dollars are scarce, the dollars are limited, the dollars may only be one year, but we do need to prime the pump if we're going to get more innovation, because we don't know all of what needs to be done.

The Chair: Thank you very much. Again, we're not only out of time, we're over time, but we do appreciate very much the fact that you've set out a number of interesting avenues for the committee to follow.

Mr Cushing: Thank you very much.

The Chair: The committee will then stand adjourned until 3:30 tomorrow. If I could just say to committee members, we have a pretty loaded schedule tomorrow and we should get started at 3:30 if at all possible.

The committee adjourned at 1819.