Representatives from a number of local agencies came together with excitement as MPP Ian Arthur announced a large grant through the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) would be going towards the expansion of a local initiative aimed at aiding at-risk children and youths.
The announcement took place on Friday, Mar. 29, 2019 in the Community Room at Kingston Police Headquarters. There, Arthur, along with OTF volunteer Rai King and other dignitaries, were welcomed by the Intersections Advisory Committee, which runs the Intersections Program here in Kingston. Intersections is an evidenced-based intervention program that helps children and youths aged eight to 20 who are at risk of becoming involved with the justice system because of issues suspected to be related to mental health issues, substance misuse, or disability. Intersections helps these at-risk youths access appropriate supports and services.
“I want to congratulate Youth Diversion Program for receiving Ontario Trillium grant funding to help expand their ‘Intersections’ program,” Arthur, announcing the $399,200 OTF grant for the expansion of the program.
“‘Intersections’ provides important societal support systems that can help at-risk youths develop important emotional coping skills and divert youths in rural communities from involvement in the justice system,” Arthur continued. “This program, and those like them, are essential to the well-being of not just the youths and families supported but the well-being of the community as a whole. Thank you to Youth Diversion for their hard work and dedication to such admirable goals.”
Shawn Quigley, executive director of Youth Diversion, was joined by representatives of Kingston Police, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the United Way for Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington (KFLA), Family and Children’s Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (FLA), as well as a variety of members for the local social services network. The gathering of leaders from so many Kingston services providers spoke to the old adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ as all of the represented agencies play a role in the Intersections Program.
For the past two years, the United Way KFLA has financially supported the Intersections program through funds raised by the Kingston Penitentiary Tours.
“The United Way has been working closely with community partners to address the issues youth face. We were thrilled to be able to introduce this important initiative to the region as part of our prevention efforts,” said Bhavana Varma, CEO and President of the United Way KFLA.
Since its inception, Kingston Police and OPP have referred close to 90 children and youth to Intersections in an effort to prevent future police contact and help these children and youth secure the support they need to address the challenges that are bring them into contact with police in the first place. The OTF grant will allow Intersection to add a clinical case manager, increase supports in our rural communities and include Family and Children’s Service as a referral pathway.
“There are times when we receive calls from caregivers or community partners where child welfare is not the most appropriate agency to respond. Families and youth are more likely to engage if they are connected to the most appropriate services early. Having intersections available for these families will give them added support to address their needs” said Steve Woodman, Executive Director of Family and Children’s Services FLA.
Those with Intersections and the agencies it works with anticipate that the OTF grant funding will support 300 young people across Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington counties. The Intersections Advisory Committee indicated the funding will allow the program to put an emphases on supporting children and youth in our rural communities.
“The OTF grant is an acknowledgment of the work that is being done by our Intersections Advisory Committee and our community partners to identify and address the challenges our children and youth are facing,” said Quigley.
(The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded more than $120 million to some 700 projects last year to “build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.”)