Ontario Trillium Foundation grant supports youth counselling service

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez.

On Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, officials gathered in Belleville to announce a one-year $144,700 grant to support substance use and addiction services for youth aged 12-17 in Hastings and Prince Edward counties.

MPP Hon Todd Smith, MPP Ric Bresee, and officials from the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board (HPEDSB) were on site, and expressed their gratitude to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for their Resilient Communities Fund grant, which will be used to support Kairos, a counselling service which specializes in treatment for youth who are experiencing any level of substance use/misuse, personally or with a family member.

“Addiction issues can take a huge toll on youth, distracting from their studies and other important events in their lives. It is important to have supports readily accessible,” said Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte. “With this funding from the Resilient Communities Fund, Youth Diversion is working with local school boards to ensure counsellors are in place to meet increasing demand. This program will make a tangible difference in students’ lives.”

According to a release from the Youth Diversion program, the approach to working with youth is based on a harm reduction model. Counsellors assist young people to identify and set their own action goals related to their substance use that may be having a negative impact on their lives. 

“While there have always been addictions challenges, we have certainly seen increases over the past few years, and we have also seen that there needs to be many different services for different situations,” stated Ric Breese, MPP for Hastings – Lennox & Addington. “With the Youth Diversion program, and the funding that enables it, we will see a wide variety of service providers partnering and working cooperatively to provide the right services in the right places. I am so very pleased to see these services extended across all the high schools in Hastings. I am grateful for all of you who work every day to provide care, counselling and find solutions, especially for our young people.”

“HPEDSB is fortunate to continue partnering with Kairos to support students. A by-product of the pandemic was an increase in substance use and addictions, resulting in more supports needed for students,” added Ken Dostaler, Superintendent of Student Services. “HPEDSB social workers, social service workers, and child and youth workers are available during the school year to provide holistic, inclusive support to students in all schools. The new funding will allow us to offer Kairos counselling services to more students and is a tremendous asset for students, families and school teams. HPEDSB appreciates the support of the Community Resilient Grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The harm reduction strategies provided by Kairos counsellors will help to reduce negative consequences associated with drug use and assist students to create better balance in their lives and focus on their schoolwork.”

According to the release, during the COVID-19 pandemic there has been an intensifying of the need for substance use and addictions services for youth in our region. Funding from the United Way HPE and from the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board has supported the Kairos substance use and addiction service in four local high schools but the COVID pandemic has highlighted the need to increase these resources, Youth Diversion shared. With the addition of the OTF grant, Kairos Substance Use and Addiction Counsellors will be in every high school in Hastings and Prince Edward counties.

“Working with our community partners such as AMHS HPE, Youthab, Children’s Mental Health Services, Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society, HPE Public Health, North Hastings Children’s Services, St. Leonard’s Community Support, Prevention, and Residential Services, Tsi Kanonhkhwatsheriyo Indigenous Interprofessional Primary Care Team, and both local school boards, we are enhancing the existing substance use and addiction services addressing the gaps caused by COVID,” said Shawn Quigley, Executive Director for Youth Diversion.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) mission is to build healthy and vibrant communities across Ontario. As an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations, last year, OTF invested nearly $209M into 2,042 community projects and partnerships, which included funding for the Government of Ontario’s Community Building Fund. Since 2020, OTF has supported Ontario’s economic recovery by helping non-profit organizations rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

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