Week of November 20th - Announcement from the Chief Executive Officer

Good afternoon everyone,

Another week of many adventures.  Thank you everyone for riding the COVID wave that has become our lives.  Zoomers are zooming away fast and furious.  Onsite folks are doing their thing with PPE in tow and Administrative staff are keeping us fully afloat with a feeling of seamless effort.

As CEO I find myself in a position of having to make critical decisions daily on, not only what impacts our lives as staff but most critically, the lives of our clients and our community.  This week’s CEO message is taking a twist.  The twist is that it’s not my message at all but rather a message from one of our cherished Board Members, Eleanor Wint, who is also an author, teacher, thinker, mother, grandmother, caregiver, caretaker, etc…

“My initial thoughts were about parents and caregivers.  Someone who cares for a child.  How are they really faring.  They must be at the end of their tether what with balancing a new keeping-the-house-clean-routine with maybe homeschooling, or feeling the tension of kids going to school and coming home or even the strain of shedding old habits.  Now even visiting family is an issue!

I came across this interesting UK study by Ofsted   which gave tips about how to socialise your child at home. Their finding, “Other than our day-to-day routine being interrupted, the pandemic has also taken its toll on children’s development”.   Note they say “how to socialise your child …. at home”.   From my observations though, the important points relate to the fact that if the child is being homeschooled or is online, the extra time it takes is enormous as the parent has to schedule this into their day.  Getting behind on homework for whatever reason leads to arguments.   What was the teacher’s responsibility is now shared with the parent.

As the home becomes the sole “socialiser” so to speak, social skills are now showing signs of deterioration as there is less need for practice with the kids always being at home.   In addition, what sometimes occurs is the unwillingness of the child to leave the home except they are well prepared as they are afraid of “catching” it.

I have noticed that children tend either to become withdrawn and/or apprehensive.  This can be expressed as staying by themselves as much as possible or being downright abrasive and intolerant.

In a nutshell children’s psycho-social development especially at the school age is closely allied to the in-home setting with the home being the place where external impressions are observed and tested.  In the case of children with special needs who go out to school the home serves to re-enforce the learning.  With iso-learning (learning in #socialisolation), this is disrupted as the setting can be anything including no real routine, poor incorporation of outside activities with inside etc etc

York Hills serves family, child and community.  I am aware of the recent seminars with invaluable tips on how to cope as well as the expansive and innovative treatment measures.  There is an old saying, easy to say…hard to do.  As #lockdown continues caregivers can feel tired, disheartened, depressed, inadequate, extremes of emotions depending on expectations.  Is there any way that perhaps there is space for temporary add-on providers who help with family visiting or is this too extreme.  I have seen where low income families have been able to adjust their parenting and teaching styles due to the use of home visitors.

The time for caregiver counselling is it fixed for each family?  I guess expansion of those webinars is already being looked at, as it is both caregiver and child who are suffering.  This means inclusion of all that’s going on around her/him. A tall order.”

Thank you, Eleanor, for the sharing of your thoughts, opinions and wisdom.  I have spent many of my Friday messages reflecting on our staff and their journey.  This message truly helps to bring home the plight of the child and the family in the pandemic.

Thank you, Onika Haywood and Joe Turpin, for your presentation on the clinical construct of trauma and the impacts on both the caregiver and the client.  Can’t wait for next week’s part 2 clinical discussion.

Stay safe and take care everyone.

Week of November 13th - Announcement from the Chief Executive Officer

Good afternoon everyone,

Wow and where to start…our first ever York Hills virtual recognition event was so well received (111 staff in attendance at the peak of the event).  The team videos were hilarious and a ‘must see’ for those that were unable to attend.  Talk about team spirit, creativity and the number of party animals we employ….the teams just oozed of it.  A special thank you to our small but very mighty Social Committee team of Nathaline Budiman, Michele Holzapfel, Vibhuti Bhatt, Nancy Devine, Joanne Gaston, Eleonnora Turdubaeva and Simone Shindler.  You pulled off what news forums are now calling the virtual event of  the year…and all in a matter of weeks.  Thank you Steven Rebellato for your kind words and congratulations to all staff that were recognized for their years of service or other qualities.



Years of Service 5 Years Kelly Ann Barrett
Sareen Cagliuzun
Anna Derbis
Natalie Freiberg
Terri Keay
Katherine Kim
Lizette London
Dylan Millar
Ramin Mohebian
Simone Shindler
Blythe McKinlay
Carolynne Warton
10 Years Tracey Butt
Helen Carmody
15 Years Janna Lempinen
Aniel Sitlani
Darryl Smith
Qian Wang
20 Years Uma Bhatt
Lisa Visiniski
Formal Awards Newbie Vibhuti Bhatt
Visionary Matt Grainger
Legacy Ramin Mohebian
Tom Lam


To everyone from me:

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”….as every one of you has and does each and everyday as part of our York Hills team.

To Simone:

A special thank you from me for all of your support and hard work now and always.


A testimonial for Sareen from a client:


We absolutely appreciate you and the time you take with us.

We love your upbeat & bright personality, and we also resonate with how down-to-earth you are. We truly have been gifted with your weekly calls!

Looking forward to today’s call!



A testimonial for Jeanette sent to her manager:


Hi Janet,

I just would like to take this opportunity to thank you and the great services you are offering.

Also, I would like to let you know how professional, knowledgeable and patient my counselor, Jeanette Cohen was.

I should say she is a great listener and after she listens and deeply looks into the issue, then she recommends very applicable and helpful solution.

I can’t express how happy I am with her and how she changed my life for good.

Thank you.

Client XXXXX



A shout out from Matt G.:


I want to recognize Matthew Oginni and Dina Winter for their work into putting together a virtual classroom alongside their day treatment program.  Everyday 1:00-2:30pm a student joins the classroom virtually and is able to interact with his peers on the TV, participate in social skills, teacher reads, and able to get 1 on 1 academic support.  Each of them have gone the extra mile in making this work successfully.



As the numbers in Ontario are continuing to set record highs at an alarming rate, (1,500 plus cases)  our staff and on site clients continue to remain COVID19 free. As many of you may have heard, masking has been found to not only protect from transmission but also from contracting the virus.  Furthermore, three ply masks are recommended (medical or cloth with the 3rd layer).  I ask that you all continue to bubble yourselves, practice your hand washing and social distancing protocols.  The possibility of schools closing remains a real possibility.  We will continue to take things one day at a time and tread with extreme caution.


Stay safe everyone.

Week of November 6th - announcement from the Chief Executive officer

Happy Friday Everyone:

Slow, sure and safe is our motto at this time, in a growing  worldwide pandemic crisis.  Happy to again say, another week behind us and another week of all being COVID-free.  This week also found a few more of our folks supporting some limited in-office work.  Thank you to each of you (both admin and clinical staff).

This week’s Clinical Constructs meeting was delivered by Ariel and Marcia on the topic of attachment.  Thank you to both of you for such a clinically strong presentation.  I could not help but think about how the construct of attachment can also be applied to the health of an organization, with my  secret hope to create secure attachments to York Hills  for all of our staff.  A work in progress indeed as you are all invited to participate in the Strategic Planning process with your feedback.  Only with your feedback will we be able to build the organization of your hopes.  

We are about to finalize our DEI work plan with Jean and Keishia (Jean’s assistant).  More of this in the coming weeks.  We have been approached by Addiction Services for York Region (ASYR) with an offer to partner with them on a novel service delivery model (more to come on this in the coming weeks).

So much good happening with so little time to address it but here you go:

Testimonial #1:

Hi Fiona,

I cannot begin to tell you how grateful we are for you and York Hills Center.

It’s been a wonderful growing experience not just for xxxx but for me also, We have learned so much during this pass six months. You have made Significant difference in my daughters life and we are forever thankful 🥰 We know that that the future will bring many surprises but thanks to your teachings, will be more equipped to face any challenges that come our way😊

We’ll complete the client survey together and will send it to you on Monday, hope is okay.

Have a safe and wonderful weekend!!

Testimonial #2

Dear Gina,

I am so much in debt for your continued support and invaluable suggestions. At the time when life is challenging us on multiple fronts, you were a light of hope for me to stay sane and perform my duties as a parent as effectively as I can. I highly recommend York hills and its programs to any parent in need and thanks once again for providing all the care you did.

Testimonial #3

Dear Gina,

This is so great that York Hills actively seeks feedback.  I’ve been so impressed with the entire program but mostly from you!  You do such a terrific job with XXXX and XXXX.  Thanks for everything that you do.

Testimonial #4

From Zinara:

So I had a parent call intake and specifically asked if they could receive service with Abner and/or Uma.  They’ve attended their webinars and were extremely moved by their workshops.

This is NOT the first time parents have called and specifically asked for Abner and Uma…. So just wanted to share and recognize how blessed and lucky  we are to have such dedicated workers helping our community J Definitely takes a village to help raise a child!

Testimonial #5

Special thanks to Tim M. (teacher at Leslie) and Venessa (CYW at Leslie) who have taken a 2 dollar ball and created a fad that their clients are so completely engaged in.

Good News Stories:

Our birth to age six team (Cindy, Larisa, Sue, Vibhuti and Janet) have been busy building connections with our colleagues in the Early Years Community.  Our hope is to support efficient, seamless and supportive access to timely mental health supports for young families.  What have we been doing?

  • Participated in “circles of practice” supporting emergency childcare centres during COVID lockdown.
  • Provided feedback and input to regional consultants redesigning the enhanced funding process and building capacity within the early years community.
  • Delivered workshops to York Region staff to build mental health awareness and literacy.
  • Developed an early years pathway that will support the warm transfer process when EIS (Early Intervention Services), EarlyON centres or public health have mental health concerns with young families.  This pathway also gives us as mental health providers easier access to developmental supports for children in licensed childcare.
  • Delivering program consultations from a mental health lens to childcare centres to support capacity building.  The hope is that children and families will experience a welcoming playful learning environment that has the tools and expertise inclusive for all.


A second good news story:

In re-developing our relationship with the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation, fifteen York Hills staff, who are or will be working with the community, participated in a half day orientation with Shannon Crate.  Shannon used her gift of storytelling to support our literacy and awareness of the history of First Nations people in Canada and how colonization, scoops and bias/racism has influenced how community members understand and experience mental health and their relationship with other people. Chi Miigwetch to Shannon.

Remember to Save the Date for the staff recognition Zoom event!  Tuesday, November 10, 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Cheer on your colleagues!  Applaud for our accomplishments!

x`Enjoy your summer weathered weekend and stay safe.

Week of October 26 - announcement from the Chief Executive Officer

Good Morning Everyone.

The month of October is about to close on us and thankfully we all remain COVID-free.  The Ontario government’s future trending projections on  COVID counts is suggesting a downturn next month; let’s hope they are right.  Many flu vaccine clinics across the province are up and running and Public Health is recommending everyone gets vaccinated.   LIT program staff and clients continue to go strong with their on-site, very creative programming.  Our CCAAS team and Child and Family workers are looking at starting some in office work next week.  Our day treatment on-site staff are doing amazingly well and just riding the COVID roller coaster.  Every day has brought a new challenge and every day they have met every challenge with courage.  All the York Hills “zoomer staff”/admin staff/etc. have been busy keeping all our programs moving forward.  Clients presenting themselves at our door for services continue as they have in previous years, strong numbers.  Clinical staff have done a great job of reducing waitlists and creating some capacity for more.  Thank you everyone for staying on target and meeting steadily with such needy families.

On a few side notes, I want to thank Shilagh and Lisa C., this has been a particularly tough week as our Ministry has downloaded many new ADR related reporting expectations that they have had to contend with in short order.  Thank you Susan B. for working so hard to bring everyone in day treatment together through a walk across Canada competition that both Onika and I continue to so eloquently lead.  We are having a “souper” time!  Thank you Matt G. and Marcel for creating a Halloween Escape Room that all 17 classes worth of day treatment kids virtually participated in.  Thank you Blythe and Rachel for a great presentation on our 3rd Clinical Construct- Family Systems.    

Happy Halloween everyone.  Stay safe and read Nancy’s newsletter for some trick or treating fun! 

Week Of October 19 - Announcement from the Chief Executive Officer

Good afternoon,

Welcome to our 8th month of a very different world.  The end to this pandemic will come but I fear that this will be our new normal for some time to come.  Everyday has brought a new COVID challenge.  Thank you all for staying buckled in and keeping both yourselves and each other safe and healthy.  Thankfully no COVID cases related to York Hills have been reported to date.  Organizationally we have not “missed a beat” as we continue to forge forward with new and improved ways of delivering our crafts.  We are almost ready to bring back our CFT’s and Consultants for some limited on-site work.

As some of you may have read/heard, the Ford government is injecting 24 million dollars to support mental health services.  The government has recognized that mental health needs to be a priority and they are doing this through a significant investment.  Stay tuned to how this investment may reach our doors.  All I ask is that we continue to put our best foot forward and continue to produce high quality results with as many families as we can serve.

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge our ADR team for, as always, tackling some very difficult cases and managing so gracefully through their often single session processes that can, at times, run 10 hours in length.  A 10 hour session, I can’t imagine!

I would also like to put a  “shout out” to the team leading our Clinical Conversations series as we help to shape the clinical direction of our organization.  Thank you clinical workers for attending last  week’s presentation by Jean Samuel and today’s presentation by Janet, Larisa and Pam.  Both have been so well received and are methodically setting a foundation for our clinical staff and their delivery of our therapeutic services.

A third  “shout out” goes to our very own Rick Rotchild from a client:

Dear Dean and Anna,

 We haven’t spoken before.  But I am a parent of a 15 year old son named XXXX (the love of my life) living in the York region.  In the last few months, my family and I were in a desperate place with our son’s behavioural challenges and poor decision making.  So we accessed your services from the intensive support program for him.  We were very fortunate that an opening came up so quickly in that program and assigned to Rick Rotchild.  As a professional social worker myself with many years of experience in the addiction and mental health field, I have to say how impressed I was by the exceptional service Rick provided our family.  He is probably one of the most intuitive, empathic and quick on his feet problem solver I have encountered in all my years of navigating the mental health system in Ontario.

 What I appreciated most about him was his down to earth, very practical approach to complex and tough real life issues facing families with teens.  Rick simply gets it!  And his lovely communication style makes it so easy for clients like myself and my family to share openly our struggles and concerns without fear of judgement or dismissiveness.

 So I felt it was important that you both know what a wonderful agency you operate with top notch staff like Rick, especially during these most trying times of COVID.  Too often, people complain about the lack of resources available for youth and families.  And too seldom do we offer gratitude and encouragement where it is most deserved.

 So hats off to you Dean, Anna and Rick! Well done!

 Eternally grateful,


Thank you Rick for all your great work and being such a strong advocate and fan  of York Hills.

Stay well, stay bubbled and keep smiling.


Week of October 9th - announcement from the Chief Executive Officer

With Thanksgiving approaching I feel it important to share a message that was shared with me earlier today.  

The anonymous author created a set of opportunities to be grateful, even when times are less-than-pleasant:

Thankfulness seems to be part of our basic nature – at least for most of us. Others may tread often into periods of negativity but they usually find their way back to a place of gratitude.

Thanks for Not Having: Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Thanks for Lacking Knowledge: Be thankful when you don’t know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Thanks for Difficult Times: Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times you grow.

Thanks for Limitations: Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Thanks for Challenges:  Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character.

Thanks for Mistakes Made: Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.

Thanks for Exhaustion: Be thankful when you’re tired and weary, because it means you’ve made the effort.

Thanks for Setbacks: It’s easy to be thankful for the good things. A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.

Life, it seems, is always full challenges, setbacks, and difficult times. Without a doubt, we all have our limitations, which often lead us to make mistakes. You can bet it’s been that way for human beings since the dawn of time. So, I’m going to do like our ancestors and express my gratitude today. Can you find it in your heart to do that too? 

At the end of the day, you may sometimes feel like a “small cog” in an otherwise big organization but the reality is, without each and every one of you, we would not be the organization we are today. Never minimize the value you bring to each other and to the families you connect with every day. A kind word from you, your  listening ear and the prospect of hope  is all that they may have to help them move forward.

I am truly thankful for each of you!


Stay bubbled this weekend and stay safe.

Week of September 28 - announcement from the Chief Executive Officer

Hello all,

A quick note to say that we passed our annual LIT program licensing.  Thank you Onika, Tammy and team for your support in preparing and navigating this stress inducing process!!  Please keep up the great work.  Thank you to all the day treatment CYW’s, teachers, etc. for your onsite work.  Three weeks in and somehow you have all found your groves.  Even with your masks, you make the work fun.  A special thank you to Susan Blair Drouin for planning a walk across Canada competition with all DT team members.  Good luck to all pairs as the competition is quite fierce.

Strategic planning (Laridae) and our Diversity Lead (Jean Samuels) have started the process of partnering to assure that the agency’s strategic planning work includes a diversity lens. From the very busy desk of our Quality Assurance Manager, Lisa C., a special shout out to Qian for her great efforts in building a better organization through the use of data.  Guess what??  The York Hills EFST parent groups have filled.  A small group of staff have developed and will be running these groups.  Thank you to Joanne Dolhanty and team led by Robin M for helping to coordinate this.

Happy Moon Festival to those celebrating.  In Chinese culture, a round shape symbolizes completeness and reunion. Thus, the sharing and eating of round mooncakes among family members during the week of the festival signifies the completeness and unity of families.  Enjoy!





Stay heathy and safe.


Week of September 21 - Announcement from Chief Executive Officer

Good afternoon everyone,

Another week of therapy sessions, DT classes, TLC services, trainings, consultations, etc. and, most importantly, no York Hills related COVID cases to report.  Another week for me to thank all of the staff, both the virtual givers and the on-site givers, for all their work.  So many to recognize so little space to do it.

Having said this, I would like to take this moment to recognize Simone Shindler for all of her hard work throughout the last six months.  Her “out of the box” approach and willingness to always try has truly lent to the growth and success of York Hills.

This has been a week of filled with some very positive input from the families we service:

From Anna Derbis:

I wanted to share some great feedback with you about Rick’s partnership with CMHA.  Lisa Wood (CHOICES program coordinator) and Rick are partnering to run the group with youth from our community clinical programs.  Lisa began chatting with Rick about one client and this evolved into a professional partnership.  Lisa notes “Rick has been wonderful to work with and will be able to represent the York Hills clients and needs in our group.”

From Jennifer Scott:

 Hello Shannon and Anne,

I just want to pass on some positive feedback from (some) parents. They really appreciate the regular communication and they are thankful for the work you are doing with (their son).  She felt supported by you and she really appreciated the fact that (he) came to you the next day and was honest about the fact that he had lied.

 Again, great work and thank you for supporting this wonderful family.

 From Susan Blair Drouin:

I wanted to say WOW!  What an incredible, crazy, frustrating, exciting, hopeful, worried, roller coaster of a week….or 2!  You have all pulled together brilliantly to get your classrooms ready to go for all of your kiddos.  They have seemed so excited to visit, and you all welcomed them with love and joy!  Exactly what they need.

I continue to be so grateful for the dedication you all show especially with the unknown year ahead of us.  You have all been open and honest about your worries, and forthcoming with all your ideas!  I don’t know that I could ask for a better team!

I wish you all a very restful, enjoyable weekend to refresh and be ready to go.  While it will be a strange year, I know it will be a great year.  Vanessa told me yesterday “if you’re comfortable, you are not growing”.  We must all be growing tons!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

 From Client, Madi:

Hey Terri Keay!

All my emails to you have been quite depressing lately, and I just wanted to send you a good one this time!

Despite my struggling, I’m really trying to look past the big things and focus on the little things.  It’s been rough, there’s been days where I’ve wanted to give up so bad, but I’m still here.

Anyways, I’ve been doing this journal I got for my birthday called “The Five-Minute Journal”.  It is a gratitude practice (ew 😉) to focus on the good things every day and how you could’ve improved it.  I’ve been AWFUL at writing in it every day, but I caught up today and am hoping to make it routine!!

Some of my accomplishments lately include:

  • Getting the co-op placement I wanted and starting earlier than the rest of my class
  • Taking Soleil out in public more often
  • Doing spur of the moment cleaning tasks like cleaning my disgusting bathroom tonight
  • Burning my candle every night as a “routine” thing
  • Brushing my teeth every night since I saw the dentist just over a week ago
  • Attending school every day and advocating for myself

These may seem like small things, but to me they are massive, and I’m proud of myself!  I know you’re proud of me too, which I can’t thank you enough for.  Thank you for being such a great mentor and role model in my life.  I know we can’t continue talking much longer which saddens me, but I know we will see each other again some day!

I’d love to chat soon if we still have time, but if we don’t have the option to I’ll keep sending you happy little emails every once in a while to keep you updated!

Lot’s of love,

– Madi

From Jennifer Scott

I just wanted to give you all some very positive feedback.  I had a session with (a client’s) mom today and she is absolutely over the moon with the treatment that (her son) is receiving.  She feels that his class placement is a perfect fit and meant to be. Vanessa she absolutely adores you.  She loves the fact that you are so responsive and you answer her emails in a really quick fashion.  That really brings her some comfort and she absolutely feels a part of our team.  She said for the first time my son wants to get up every morning and go to school and he’s absolutely happy when he gets home and she said it’s an incredible gift that we’re giving her.  I just wanted y’all to pat yourself on the back for the amazing work  that you’re doing and changing things for this family.  Well done.

From Paul Brown -Mediator York Hills:


Perhaps the most positive was the feedback from the roster about you.  The mediators feel incredibly supported by you, and are very appreciative of the work you’re doing.  I just thought it was important to let you know that…. and I also copied Dean, b/c that’s how I roll… haha


For those celebrating Yom Kippur- the holiest day of the year in Judaism – G’mar Hatima Tova!

Please keep yourselves and your families safe.

Week of September 14 - Transition back to our new normal

Hello all,

Not sure where or how to start as this week has been particularly busy as we transition back to our new normal, which actually appears to be anything but normal.  I will say thank you to all of the staff within our day treatment classrooms for delivering the most outstanding, bizarre, twisty and turny on-site day treatment service anyone could expect.  Having said this, every day presented many of them with multiple health-related challenges as we collectively try to figure out how to navigate in a world of COVID x  flu x colds.  We now have Public Health on speed dial and they know Joanne P. by first name.  The good news is that, as of today, we have no confirmed cases of COVID.  It will be a day by day affair, and we will react as aggressively as we need to, in order to assure staff and client well-being.

On some other notes, we have announced that Jean Samuels will be joining us as a champion on equity, diversity, and inclusivity vision.  Strategic planning is underway and we are working with Laridae (consulting firm) to establish our stakeholder engagement plan.  New staff are being hired to fill vacancies.  The 2019-20 financial statements were presented by the Auditor at our first virtual AGM this week.  Everything looks good.  Thanks again to Peter and his team for their hard work.  We had a great compliment from a parent on the work that Matt Grainger has done through our Respite Program. Thank you Matt for your support and Lisa V. for working so hard to continuing to deliver our Respite program.  We are about to launch a virtual day treatment program like no other.  More to come on this in the coming weeks.  We have seen a steady increase in our “Here to Help” call-in service since April.  CFT’s from day treatment will be stepping in to support the call-in line next week.  Thank you Tom and Ramin for getting the new phone system installed and helping us initialize our voicemail boxes.  Workers throughout the organization are in the process of developing workshops and groups so we can reach even more people virtually.

Finally, I have attached my CEO’s Report and Steven’s Board Chair Report (as President of the Corporation), for your review.  Both were presented at our AGM.


Chief Executive Officer’s Report – September 2020

Stay healthy and safe everyone.


Ready, Set, Go! - Our return to more on-site work

Hello all,

So here we are just a weekend away before the next step in our return to more on-site work at York Hills.  Our LIT program has continued to go strong onsite in Aurora since the beginning of the rest of the world entering into virtual service delivery.  CFT’s, Play Therapists, Intake Workers, Community Clinical Workers, CYWs, Intensive Workers, Admin Team, Finance team, HR Team, IT Team, ADR Team, Quality Assurance Team, Family Mediation, COMPASS, Community Outreach, CCAAS,CAS hosted services,  etc. have all stayed the course and continued to deliver incredible virtual services.  Thank you again to these heroes of York Hills.

Our 18 day treatment classrooms are about to resume onsite services on Monday (September 14th).  Onsite orientations for new students happened this week and staff/teachers are reporting being “cautiously excited” about being back to what they do best, treating and educating our needy children and youth.  The journey to opening 18 classrooms both in our stand-alone setting (Leslie Street) and within our hosted community schools has not been an easy one.  Every day has brought us with many twists and turns.  Our levels of precaution and protection have truly exceeded most public health standards and many have worked (Joanne P. and Bill ) tirelessly to get us there.  Special thanks to the Managers, Coordinators, teachers and all the day treatment staff for returning to their various locations last week and literally attacking the remaining steps to assure health and safety protocols were ready to be implemented.

I want to share with you a message that we received late yesterday that I feel truly captures the essence of the work that has been completed both at Leslie Street and in our other DT classrooms.  This message was from Lisa Weekes, Principal, York Academy-Care & Treatment Programs, Student Services, York Region Public School Board.

And I have to tell you, I was overwhelmed to see how incredible, clean, safe, thoughtfully laid out, over the top amazing the building looked in every way.

Every single staff member told me how safe, valued, cared for and excited they feel coming back to work.

In fact, blessed was the word many of them used.

 From the bottom of my heart…..appreciations and thank you and kudos- what immense work, executed expertly J

I took pictures, it just all made me so happy.

 Even touchless sinks- I want to work there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”



Week 18 announcement from the Chief Executive Officer

Dearest Everyone.

Week 18 and, by all accounts, everyone remains free of COVID-19. This will be a quick and final message for a few weeks as many/most of you are about to embark on well-deserved holidays.  Please take a read of the “Nancy Devine newsletter” for all the latest and greatest of what York Hills has to offer….welcome back from holidays, Nancy.

I would like to thank all the day treatment CYW’s, CFT’s, Managers, Coordinators and Directors for working hard to run a “one of a kind” virtual summer day treatment program.  Indeed I have heard so many stories of both “good” and “bad” times but, at the end of it all, you persevered.  To Deb, Ann Cairns and Gail, thank you so much for taking the initiative to deliver mediation services virtually and working so hard to educate our York Region judges on how to make this happen.  To our ADR team, a special recognition goes out to you, as you each continue to  deliver great alternative dispute resolution services in a virtual world that has brought its own trials and tribulations.  Thank you Lisa V. for continuing to coordinate our very successful group services programs and for supporting the recruitment of multiple student placements commencing this Fall.   Thank you Joanne P. for helping us to prepare for a safe return in the Fall (more on this in the coming weeks).  As always thank you LIT/TLC staff for your unwavering commitment to delivering care 24/7, 365 days per year.

I would be remiss in not mentioning the training on Working with Black Youth and Families Amidst Racial Trauma.  The feedback has been incredibly positive as the trainer, Charmaine, pushed us to reflect and to understand the world from a different lens ( I won’t say much more on this at this time as the second cohort of this training is happening next week).  Thank you to SafeGuards and Simone for helping to set this up.  We will be having a follow up session and debrief in the Fall.  The other good news is that we have decided on an AOP Lead and are just about to sign the contract.  More on this in the coming weeks.

Last, but not least, for those coming back from a holiday, welcome back. For those continuing to work, thank you for being there and assuring the continuity of our services.  For those of you going on holidays, I wish each of you as much rest and relaxation as you can find over the next few weeks.  To everyone, stay safe and healthy.

Week 17 announcement from the Chief Executive Officer

Hello everyone.

Week 17 and I am again happy to report that we are all still healthy.  To take this one step further, our TLC/ LIT team and our TLC/LIT clients had a planned visit from Public Health for COVID testing.  By all reports, the test was trauma free and, most importantly, everyone’s results came back negative.  Great news to a team that has refused to miss a beat.  Thank you TLC/LIT team for continuing to stand strong, for protecting each other, and for delivering a most amazing service.

As mentioned in last week’s email, we are moving to offering outdoor services to those clients that are unable to partake in our virtual service delivery.  The protocol has been finalized and we are moving forward next week with service delivery.  We are still working on the code yellow return to work plan for late August and in preparation for a September day treatment start.

Some great feedback received by Shilagh on the work being done in ADR: 

“The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program recently received feedback from a Judge in the Child Welfare Court in Peterborough that I want to pass on to you.  Although we typically receive feedback from our client families and from the Children’s Aid Societies in central Ontario with whom we partner, it is unique that we would receive comments from a Judge.  The Judge stated that he was impressed with how quickly Child Protection Mediations are being held and with the quality of the finalized resolutions being reached outside of the court process.  These comments reflect the work of our two Child Protection Mediators working with Kawartha Haliburton CAS, Dianne B. and Paul B.

In addition to Child Protection Mediations being provided virtually and skillfully with the use of multiple break-out rooms, our Family Group Decision Making Coordinators and Indigenous Approaches Facilitators are working virtually in bringing together large numbers of family members, sometimes with twenty or more people participating, to develop a plan for the child(ren)/youth that addresses the concerns identified by the referring Children’s Aid Society.  Traditional Circles with medicines and the support of Elders are also being held virtually for our Indigenous families with very comprehensive and robust plans for children and youth being developed from these processes.      

I would like to acknowledge the tremendous level of skill, agility, and commitment shown by all our ADR practitioners as they were required to move their work onto virtual platforms that would meet the needs of both our client families as well as our CAS partners.  As one can imagine, managing the ADR process with large numbers of family members and service providers, together with the high conflict often present, and adding on the virtual component, has been a huge accomplishment.  I would also like to highlight the work of Ann Cairns in her role supporting the entire ADR team administratively and all the work that was required to set us up to work remotely.  She has been instrumental in balancing the demands of an influx of referrals since early June together with a number of ongoing and large projects.”

I had the pleasure of attending Geri Crisci’s training yesterday on what it means to be a Manager during a pandemic.  What stood out for me in this training is how critical self-care and the care for each other is at this time.  The pandemic has and continues to take its toll on us on so many levels, both seen and unseen.  The mental health of our clients, and yes even ourselves, is being challenged almost daily.  Now more than ever, we need to assure that we are looking after ourselves so that we can than look after our clients.  Vicarious trauma, burn out, etc. are all real life phenomena and potential risks we face on a daily basis.  The stress of  living in isolation, outside our normative routines, with an ever-looming risk to one’s health, etc. can easily takes its toll.  As many, if not most, of us are about to embark on our summer holidays, now more than ever we must take advantage of this time.  With limits on where we can go and what we can do, we must find ways to rejuvenate and to disconnect.  As Geri put it, we must “pretend we are on Mars.”  In order to protect our health we must all use this time to distract from our work responsibilities and attempt to fully optimize on the time we are away.  Truth be told, we don’t know what September will bring and, by all accounts, our services will be needed more than ever!!  Trips out of country and even out of Province (certain provinces) may not be possible.  Visiting friends and family may not be in the stars for you this summer.  Visiting your favorite attractions or events may not be possible…yes even your favourite restaurants/bars will only have limited seating.  This is the summer where we need to find the pleasures that are perhaps offered a little closer to home (your backyards), that are simpler in scope (your gardens) and where the thrill is a little more tempered (watching your vegetables grow).  This may be the time to reconnect with nature, take long walks, bike rides, play in the sprinkler, push your kids out of their wading pools…you get the drift.  We must leave our YH emails, our data bases, and even our reports behind and find what life has to offer.  Take the time to finally smell those roses you spent the last few months growing.

Take care everyone and have a restful and safe weekend.

Week 16 announcement from the Chief Executive Officer

Hello Everyone.

Week 16 and thankfully everyone remains healthy.  We continue to hammer away at preparations for returning to work. Lots of meetings, lots of planning and lots of protocols to think about. Joanne P. remains busy onsite preparing our various locations for our safe return.  The virtual clinical service delivery is continuing across all fronts (Mediation, ADR, Goal Focused, Navigation, Intake, Brief, DT, CCAAS, CCES, IFCR, Intensive, STEP, Play, Groups, Respite, Outreach, COMPASS  Call-In Line, etc.).  Our finance team, of just two, is now is in the thralls of our 2019/20 audit process; thank you to Peter and Amanda for your in-office and out of office work.  Our LIT program has remained steadfast in service delivery as they  continue to deliver some incredible therapeutic programming.  York Hills, in collaboration with the First Nations Community of Georgina Island, will soon be posting for a clinical worker to support the child and family therapy needs of the Island (a specialized skill set is required).  Our Day Treatment summer program is now in virtual week 1 and, by all accounts, we have had some very positive reviews with good attendance.  (See attached.)

Further to the above, here are some Day Treatment client testimonials I thought worth sharing as the DT treatment school year has come to a close and the summer program has opened:

From our teacher Jillian: “I wanted to share some lasting words from one of the Carrville kids.  He is moving on to high school in September and had some pretty awesome words to share as he ended the school year in program. “

Here is my advice for new kids coming into Day Treatment, 

It’s ok to make mistakes and take two steps back sometimes, you’re never going to be perfect, but as long as you’re working towards your goals and trying to get better for yourself. You are going to have challenges but in the end this program helped me and taught me how to face my problems and challenges and how to move forward. I used to run away from my problems and this program really helped me and now I’m going to highschool and my self confidence is way better.”

From our Karen RW: “I thought I would pass this final journal entry on from one of our discharging clients in primary at MAPS.  This little guy has come a long way and what he wrote below is HUGE for him.”

While in Ms. Baggs class I like playing with Lego. I also liked using the break out room when I was upset. I learned that I could ask my teachers to go out into the hallway if I need a break. I also learned how to have control over my body so I didn’t rage. Advice I would pass on is go into the blue room if you are upset.”

From a parent whose child is in the Leslie Street CP virtual Program:

Hi Susan

We just wanted to give a “shout out” to say THANK YOU.

We greatly appreciate the time and effort it must of taken you and your staff to get all of the individual camp supplies sorted out and bagged.

So far XXXX is very excited with the morning check ins and the social part of seeing other children.

He has enjoyed the first two activities with excitement and joy.

Shannon and Darryl are awesome as is all of your staff.

The positive energy and detail to the children’s moods is fantastic.

On behalf of our family THANK YOU for helping XXXX feel connected to something.”

Last, but not least, our first very small step back will be happening in the next week where some of our staff will be delivering services in the community at some pre-approved outdoor spaces.  Protocols for this work are just being finalized and client consent is being obtained.  More on this in the coming weeks.

I would like to share my sincerest condolences to Sandy and her family for their loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you all

Week 15 announcement from the Chief Executive Officer

Dearest everyone:

Week 15 and we are all healthy.  A bit of a roller coaster ride with respect to messaging within the realm of Public Health and protocol expectations around LIT programs.  Thanks Onika for helping us navigate this.  The work in Day Treatment is not stopping as the school year officially closed yesterday.  Indeed our 17 day treatments classrooms are transitioning to virtual summer camp.  Who would have ever imagined summer camp being delivered virtually?  Thank you to all of those staff, coordinators and managers who safely shopped and have delivered summer program supplies to the many clients that will be participating in our very unique programming.  We look forward to hearing about how all this works out.

Great news, we are about to launch our 18th day treatment classroom!  More news on this in the coming weeks.

Joanne, Onika and I are currently working on a stage 2, code yellow, return to work plan for September.  Thank you everyone for helping to  build your own individual return to work team plans.  Your input is proving invaluable in the return to work planning.

So Marina has set a new record with 191 attending her webinar on Autism and Mental Health.  With almost 170 of those attendees coming in from across Ontario.  There was even some international interest from England!

An email from our Karen McKinney last night (July 25): …” we had a new and unsettling experience with our webinar.  We were all up, running and getting ready to broadcast when the, “lights went out”.  Actually, the Zoom connection was lost and some rapid calls and texts amongst Nathalie, Alyssa, Tom and I occurred to get a quick and new action plan together and they did.”  Thank you for your perseverance, the show must go on, and on it did.  I wish those from our Community Outreach Team, which is United Way funded, a great summer as they have completed another successful year.

The first Strategic Planning meeting has been set with Laridae consultants and our Board for July 15.  They will be guiding our process moving forward.  All staff should anticipate receiving a stakeholder strategic planning survey at some point over the next few months.

Some more good news stories as summarized by Janet MacQuarrie:

  • With Childcare centres re-opening, our emergency childcare team has been meeting with EIS and the emergency daycares for seven “Lessons Learned” circles of practice. (one for each emergency childcare settings).
    1. One of the first lessons learned has been the realization that building staff capacity to create a welcoming and safe environment and taking care of staff is more important than adding extra staffing when working with a diverse group of children.
    2. Our participation in this project has influenced the region to begin a rethink of the enhanced funding process to focus more on our program consultation model and has given us good data to review and revise how we do our program consultations!
    3. It has also introduced mental health concepts to the childcare world who has begun to trust and value the lens of mental health.
    4. The dream is to somehow bring the mental health program consultation to all childcare in York Region which returns us to our earlier ideas about seeking funding and grant sources to collaborate with the Region.
  • The Intake Team and Clinical Navigation team are ready to begin a practice of direct case assignment.
    1. Families will be held by one intake worker for intake/orientation and scheduling their first appointment with a clinical navigator.
    2. The clinical navigation waitlist is cleared (as of today) and the team will begin to work together for a seamless front door experience beginning July 6th.
  • We have one virtual sandtray license with the app on an iPad in the office. As of Friday, the virtual sandtray group launched a new remote feature specifically developed for telehealth-COVID-19 needs.  Excitingly the remote feature can be used with clients in an encrypted, confidential, protected manner AND for supervision and education purposes as well! Our license gives us the upgrade free. When a clinician and client both use an Apple product, the client can use sandtray from their home. Larisa and I will be practising with the app and will offer our feedback. I have been watching the development of the product and reviews have been good! If it works easily….I may come running so we can purchase more licenses and possibly iPads for the play clinicians to use in their virtual play therapy work.

And last but not least:

CMHO Pledge:

Anti-Black racism is prevalent and entrenched in our communities and organizations. Systemic racism and the police violence, trauma and injustice we have seen in recent news and events are not solely American issues. This is a Canadian issue and it’s an Ontario issue.

Anti-Black racism is also a child and youth mental health issue. The cumulative impact of multiple systems of oppression on Black communities causes trauma and negatively impacts mental well-being. Systemic and institutional racism creates barriers in access and quality of mental health care for Black children, youth and families. At the same time, we know that Black children, youth and families are over-represented in the child welfare and youth justice systems. Without appropriate access to child and youth mental health services, these communities experience poorer mental health outcomes than other communities. This is wrong, unacceptable and has to change.

Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) recognizes we have a lot of work to do. The way we advocate for better quality and access to mental health care needs to change to meaningfully include, elevate and engage Black, Indigenous and racialized children, youth and families. Our work begins with a commitment to search ourselves, as individuals and as an organization, to identify, name and directly confront our own silence and inaction.

CMHO is listening, learning, and unlearning. As a first step, we have committed to embedding anti-racism and anti-oppression training for our team on an ongoing basis and to provide the foundations needed to move our longer-term equity goals forward. Our next steps include working with our member child and youth mental health centres to have frank conversations about equity issues, racism and privilege in the sector and developing concrete plans to move forward an anti-oppression and health equity agenda. There is much more work to do and we are currently planning and identifying broader strategies, and are committed to providing progress updates on this work.

We are committed to creating safe spaces to learn from the expertise and leadership of our resilient Black community members. In addition, we are committed to building genuine relationships with Black communities and supporting, investing and ultimately empowering racialized youth to break down barriers and to develop stronger, more informed leadership for the future.

If you or a young person you know right now is struggling, please reach out for help. Child and youth mental health centres across the province are open and providing counselling and therapy virtually, on the phone, and in-person where needed. Find support near you at

I have reached out to Kim Moran (CEO, CMHO) and expressed our full support of their position on Anti-Black racism and have pledge our support in their mission moving forward.

Stay safe and healthy everyone.

Week 14 announcement from the Chief Executive Officer

Dearest Everyone:

As week 14 nears to an end we are all still reporting good health.  The government has moved us to Stage 2, the number of daily reported new cases of COVID are dropping as the number of individuals being tested remains high.  Now more than ever we must do our part to remain vigilant as we stay safe.  We are not in the clear yet!

The world of public health is not an easy one to maneuver and I am thankful to have Steven, our Board Chair, for his guidance, direction and at times just a friendly virtual face to talk to when I’ve been tasked with some huge decisions.  I would like to take this moment to also acknowledge all of our Board members that have been with me and supporting York Hills at every turn during this crisis.  Thank you Richard Housen, Mike Shulman, Elaine Forrester, Basil Mwawasi, Eleanor Wint, Gleb Matushansky, Victoria Tundo, Rajiv Kutty, Peter Milovanovic and again Steven Rebellato.  Thank you Diane, my EA, for supporting both myself and the Board through this trying time.  I would also like to take a moment to thank Rishma Mirshahi, our Ministry of Health Program Supervisor, for being a huge support and supporter of our organization.  Rishma has assured the well-being of everyone at York Hills has remained our top priority while quality  services have continued to be delivered.  Last but not least, I would like to thank CMHO, Kim Moran (CEO) and her team, for being such amazing advocates, lobbyists and changemakers within the government circles and our sector as a whole.  We and our clients are all very much safer today because of the work of CMHO.

I will say this has been a particularly enlightening week for me as I found myself in and out of many conversations with both our staff and multiple community partners regarding our AOP initiative and next steps.  “Truth to power” was a phrase that came up repeatedly and, in this context, spoke to a huge leap of faith being taken in me to move the organization safely forward.  My goal, in these discussions, was simply to listen and, most importantly, learn. There was a terrific amount of wisdom exchanged but there was also much emotion expressed.  Emotion that expressed hurt, pain and disappointment, if not even a sense of helplessness that can only be (even partially) mended with action that inevitably leads to real change.  As one wise YH staff member expressed to me, “this cannot be a moment, it needs to be a movement.”  A decision on the hiring of an AOP Lead will be made in the two next weeks or so (we are very close now).  I’ve been reminded that even with a consultant in place, the heavy lifting must rest with me and with all of us.  My vision is that this initiative will be a movement, that we will all embrace the work ahead, and we will assure that any human to human injustices are nonexistent within YH.

celebrate the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis!

As mentioned in Simone’s  earlier email, June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day, please take a moment to learn why this day is so important to us.

I also want to again acknowledge the passing of Gillian Barker who gave so much to the First Nations Community on Georgina Island and to so many other important causes across our region, including the York Region Pride Parade in Newmarket (see link below).  She will be missed by all that knew her.

It has been a busy week again across the agency.  Please take a moment to read Nancy’s newsletter, with special attention to the Team News section.

I would like to acknowledge the following:

Sue B., Pooja P. and Vibhuti B. for a most amazing SLP x mental health webinar- The three of you are an amazing tag team.  We had 142 join to watch this presentation.

Larisa L., Cindy I.  and Vibhuti B. delivered services to the region with 225 participants from all over Ontario.

Thank you Rick R. and Lorraine P. for  your webinar on – Bringing your Family To Focus and Megha for recognizing them.

Welcome Nicole U., Sarah L. and Jodi M.; we are thrilled to have you with us.

Thank you DT folks for an amazing summer program planning.  I truly cannot wait to see it in action.

Leslie Street looks completely revived thanks to Bill and his incredible painting skills.

Thank you to everyone that is supporting our call-in line.  The community of practice was very informative and uplifting.

There is an invite being sent out by Simone for an upcoming training, Working with Black Youth and Families Amidst Racial Trauma.  The first date on July 10, 1:00-3:30 p.m. has been offered to staff working directly with families.  A second date/time for the training is being offered on July 31, 1:00–3:30 p.m. and will be available to all other staff across the agency.

Thank you LIT/TLC staff for an amazing health and safety report.  An Inspector from Public Health showed up with last minute notice.  He met with our formidable Onika and left so impressed with us that he asked Onika for permission to share our protocols with other service providers.  As shared in our bi-weekly newsletter, we have successfully completed the recent licensing process for our LIT/TLC program for another year.  Thank you again to Onika for her hard work on this!


Happy father’s day and stay safe everyone.

Week 13 announcement from the Chief Executive Officer

Dearest Everyone:

Week 13 and Friday’s message is coming out on Thursday. From all reports, everyone is still healthy and our work continues to be delivered quite effectively. Thank you LIT/TLC team, we are all so proud of your work and the return/start of 2 clients. I hope to report on all the great organizational work that’s happening in my next Friday message.

As many of you have been introduced to the York Hills clinical constructs presentation/plan (fondly known as the Lisa C./Simone road show), you know that we have included AOP (Anti Oppressive Practice) as a foundational underpinning and gold standard for all our work moving forward. Most of us would admit that AOP is not an area of expertise for us and so management decided to go out to market to find a Leader in this area of specialized work. We are currently in the process of interviewing highly recommended suitable candidates. Truth be told, there are few true experts in this field willing to take on a job of our size. Our thoughts are that this investment will be like no other, not just monetarily but in transformational potential. It will be a long term YH organizational commitment, potentially spanning years. The transformation will not just be of our clinical practices, but also our HR practices, Board Practices, Leadership practices, Policies and Procedures, etc. It will be an “all-in” for us, with a planned assurance that will endure the test of time.

I’ve been asked this week about my vision for this organization moving forward. My answer is simple and really has not changed since starting into the amalgamation. What I want is for us all to be a part of an organization that we are proud to call our organization. An organization that puts people first, that is inclusive of our community and is the “go-to” for staff and clients alike. A place that we all feel safe in, where we are simply measured by what we bring and who we are as people. A place where we can each be ourselves and achieve within our respective potentials, with care and kindness as our guiding values and principles.

A few of you have asked for a more immediate response and a move forward on our equity, inclusivity and diversity initiative. My response is that we are looking at moving forward planfully and with some early targeted training. Our first training opportunity is through SafeGuards and will focus on understanding how to work with Black Youth and Families Amidst Racial trauma. The management team will continue to generate training opportunities and resources as we move forward towards building out long-term, sustainable plans. Identifying areas of need/interest to your managers would be very helpful so that we can plan our early days training accordingly. In the next few weeks, I am also hoping to reenergize a committee that will support the AOP work together with our hired Lead. Thank you to all those that have expressed an interest in supporting this committee and being champions in our growing and maturing organization.

I want to thank all of those staff that have met with me privately to share their thoughts on what they see as the future of a York Hills that embraces equity, diversity and inclusivity as our values. Your reflections, your experiences (both good and bad) and your wisdom will go a long way in supporting our next many steps. Your many suggested resources are great and will be distributed as appropriate. I have more staff meetings booked next week. I have also been meeting with Directors from partner organizations and learning much from them. More to come in the next few weeks.





Stay safe and healthy everyone.

Week 12 announcement from the Chief Executive Officer
Good Morning Everyone:

3 months in and we continue to all be fully engaged in service delivery. Thank you to everyone for your continuing hard work and dedication. Organizationally we all have so much to be proud of and that is truly because of each of you.

Having said this, I do not fool myself in believing that it’s all coming up as “sunshine and roses.” The work has been very hard and the journey has had its ups and downs. I did something different with this week’s email as I built this message on your voices. As I’ve been in various team meetings this week , asking each of you how you are doing , I captured the responses as anonymous quotes below. I feel, even in small sound bites, these quotes tell the real story of our journey.

In no particular order :

“Zoom fatigue is a real thing”
“In the beginning it was very difficult, in the last 4 weeks families and I have figured itiout, its working really well”
“Families are loving it”
“Somedays I’m not sure who I am… a mother, a father, a clinician, a cook, a cleaner?”
“As an admin staff I am a lot busier”
“I have felt overwhelmed at times”
“Triple P on zoom is amazing, the families are more engaged, the kids are even engaged”
“I feel the pressures of working virtually and building up the services”
“Zoom resistant families are now coming along and loving this way of working”
“We as admin staff are busy scanning and uploading, we will soon be paperless”
“ I miss having someone to be able to turn to and process with”
“My home has become my work, it’s suddenly has a heaviness, I need to have my house smudged”
“Our Here to Help has been a savior for many families”
“Stress and the excitement of delivering work in this new way are not mutually excusive”
“There are days where this sucks and days where I’m loving it”
“We are so dependent on tech, if it goes down we are in big trouble”
“Volume of calls is up”
“We have removed so many barriers for clients, they are loving this work”
“No shows are down but they happen”
“Who would have thought you can do play therapy and theraplay virtually”
“Keeping students motivated to do academics virtually is a challenge but we as teachers are having some success”
“We are finding it hard to cope, I wonder how hard it is for the families we work with?”
“I finally think I found my grove”
“Roller coaster ride is what it has been”
“ I miss seeing people”
“We have been well supported by our Managers”
“My clients are loving there 1:1 sessions on zoom, they seem less shy to talk”
“Teen clients are running from home, just to get a break from being at home”
“There are moments in week that I realize how much things have changed”
“ Families are thankful for zoom, it has becoming something they look forward too”
“Things won’t go back to the way they were”
“I’ve got my garden going, it’s bigger than ever”
“I am happy to have time to have lunch with my husband”
“I have a new appreciation for what my spouse does at work”
“Thank you for keeping us safe”
“ I am stressing about getting my reports done for the deadline”
“ I am exhausted trying to reach certain families”
“I’ve done this virtual work in the past, I am loving it”
“Barriers are being beat, we are reaching more families”
“ One day flows into the next, I can’t remember what I did yesterday”
“I keep my academics relevant to what’s happening in the world, clients engage”
“This has been a terrible week with the events in Minneapolis”
“Sometimes I’m flying high, other times I drop low, sometimes I am in middle ground”
“The benefits of not commuting and eating lunch with my wife are great”
“Lot’s happening but we don’t see it, thank you managers”
“It’s hard on everybody”
“ I really appreciate my colleagues and the work they are doing”
“I am happy to increase my bubble”
“I can’t imagine how parents are managing with little kids and work demands”
“We are on a Corona coaster”
“This has been one of my hardest weeks with the tragedy in Minneapolis”
“I took a week off and now I feel refreshed”
“Lots of people lost their jobs, we are lucky”
“The time crunches are stressful”
“The reality of living downtown, people are boarded up”
“I’m missing the in person “face to face contact”
“I’m afraid of going back”
“I’m very isolated”
“I’m impressed with how supportive everyone is”
“Sitting all day my back is hurting, happy my Chiropractor is back”
“It was difficult at the beginning. I’m a social person. The ability to now visit within a bubble of friends and family is helping”
“The numbers and making my stats got to me, trying to get to 15 per week with no shows is hard at times”
“Balancing paperwork and sessions is challenging”
“Protecting a day for reports is helpful”
“There is a lot to be happy for”
“I am looking forward to summer holidays”
“I got COVID tested and I’m negative”

I want to thank everyone for your transparent and honest feedback. Please keep sharing and seeking support as needed. Your managers and directors truly care. We are all in this together, both during good and bad times.

Please stay safe and enjoy your weekends.

Week 11 announcement from the Chief Executive Officer
Dearest Everyone.

As week 11 closes behind us we continue to report an increase in client volumes across all fronts. Both inputs (client referrals) and outputs (client sessions) are up. Everyone please keep up the great work as you each continue to deliver as much virtual support to as many clients as you can. Virtual service delivery is viable, is backed by research and is here to stay in some shape or form.

As many of you know I/we are developing a return to onsite work plan. As mentioned at the staff meeting last week, our first step into onsite work will be a small one and only with the assurance that precautions are in place. Special thanks to Joanne P., Onika and Lisa C. for your thoughtful contributions to this ever-evolving protocol. I am currently participating in 4 return to onsite work committees, sharing and learning from and with others. We will continue to proceed forward with caution. I hope to have a sharable draft document available for everyone at some point next week. We are awaiting the installation of protective barriers across our sites and we are perpetually purchasing PPE. Thank you to United Way for their donation of over 2000 child friendly surgical grade masks. Our overall stock pile of masks, gloves, hand sanitizer is growing by the week. Thank you Onika and Joanne P.

The week in review:

Jelum and Alyssa presented a Screen Time webinar to 85 participants. Thank you Nathalie for providing support to this.
Matt G. held a virtual meeting with a Raptor
Lisa C. and Alessandra were able to provide ChYMH training to 6 staff remotely.
CYW’s will start supporting the phone line beginning June 1 – that’s true team work!
The constructs and treatment modality road show continues with Lisa C. and Simone and has been well received.
The North Building staff enjoyed getting together over coffee this week, if we can’t see each other in person as we normally would this is a great way keep those connections going!
Thank you to Eleonora, Jared, Laurie, Marina and Nathaline who continue to offer mental health, fitness and knowledge breaks for all of us.
Thank you to Pooja for providing an excellent virtual placement opportunity to her student Kirsty who gave a glowing review of her experience at York Hills.
Our promotional efforts are continuing as we hit new heights with social media hits for the month of May we topped 20000…thank you Nathaline.
Call volume is moving up in our call-in service.
Our YouTube channel has been created and they are waiting for content-Thanks Simone, Ramin, etc.
Maggie received her RSW designation – congratulations!!

Week 9 announcement from the Chief Executive Officer
Happy Long Weekend Everyone:

A twist with the Ontario government’s announcement yesterday of a reopening of in- person counselling services. Anxieties were high for all of us across our sector. We received clarification yesterday from MCCSS that the announcement of counselling and addiction services was from a “you have” permission perspective and not from a “you shalt” perspective”. The MCCSS interpretation of the announcement was that we decide how and when our organizations re-open and develop our own plans. We are awaiting and expecting a similar response from the Ministry of Health.

Organizationally, a few weeks back, we had already moved some of our energy into planning for our safe return to onsite work. Having said this, there is work ahead of us to assure a threshold of safety is reached before a staged plan for our return actually commences. As you can all well imagine there are many considerations and permutations of what a staged process can look like. Each site and program offers some of their own unique needs and challenges. This will not be a “rush back” to onsite work plan! We are now fully virtual in our services (other than LIT ) and growing our outputs daily. Safety of everyone remains paramount and will ultimately dictate when onsite work happens. Advance notice will be given before we return. For now we continue to asses our return to onsite work needs and we (thank you Joanne P.) are working to modify our numerous workplaces and spaces for safety.

A quick recap of the last week:

-Masked LIT staff are working away and preparing to receive a couple of new onsite clients. Thank you LIT/TLC staff.
-Amanda L. has virtually moved our payments fully to EFT’s. Thank you Amanda for all your onsite work.
-Peter is working with the auditors to start our last fiscal year audit using unique practices.
-Thanks to Lisa C. we will be moving forward with our strategic planning over the next few months.
-Joanne G. is creatively working at filling a few staffing additions.
-Simone and Janet provided staff with brief counselling training. Very well received.
-Staff redeployment has started. Thank you CYW’s, CFT’s, Outreach, etc. for your support.
-Simone and Lisa C. circled the organization speaking about the clinical constructs.
-Lisa V. created a must see video on respite. Our newest York Hills movie star. Grad her autograph.
-Overall day treatment outputs inching upwards. Thanks Chris, Marcel, Domenica, Susan, Coordinators and all staff. Who would have thought we could deliver, even a percentage of day treatment, virtually.
-Matt G. and the Kettleby team have delivered some very successful day treatment classrooms.
-Shannon D. and the Thornhill team have launched more classrooms, as have all other DT programs.
-Marina hosted our first Facebook live event where we garnered 127 views
-Our social media outreach, thanks to Nathaline, has seen over 7000 hits. Wow…wow…wow.
-We are beginning to offer virtual groups – DBT and Take Action (CBT anxiety group) spearheaded by Anna Derbis.
-Mary Ann and Robin are now offering the orientation to services workshop virtually.
-We have just met with 360 kids and are working on a shared youth homelessness navigation initiative. Thanks Donna, Janet, Simone and the new RBC funding.
-weekly outputs report from Lisa C. and Qian suggest a clinical worker efficiency increase of almost 10% for direct services and 35% for indirect services… and we can’t stop there! Go! Go! Go!

Week 8 announcement from the Chief Executive Officer

Dearest Everyone.

We are 2 months in, and believe it or not, our momentum as an organization is growing even stronger. More family counselling sessions, more individual counselling sessions, more webinars, more virtual day treatment classes, more media posts, more quality assurance reports, more call-in single sessions, more client  assessments, more CCAAS consultations, more mediation sessions, more ADR consultations, more days in residence with everyone healthy, more planning, more creativity  and  all within the context  of us wanting to get even better at what we do. There really is no going back to how things were!  Changes to programs are being made by our many Managers and we must take what we’ve/they’ve learnt and build to an even stronger York Hills future. 

I have spent most of the last week in and out of team meetings, impressed by the desire of all to continue to do more. The reality of our long waitlists has been heard and many of our staff have offered their time and skills to help reach out to as many families as possible and provide the much needed support. This is truly momentous as we are moving to a “whole agency approach” with a willingness of staff to do whatever it takes to deliver our essential services.

This week in recap:

-Our very own Nancy D.  has published and emailed the first edition of the York Hills Good News Newsletter. Laugh, cry and even bake all in one read! What more can we ask for.

-Our very own Nathaline saw an incredibly busy week and has done an amazing job in promoting YH, our so many initiatives and Children’s Mental Health Week. Thank you Nathaline.

-A shout out to Qian and Lisa C. for their tireless work in producing our weekly reports and in working at improving the quality of our services.

-All can I say about Vibhuti and Pooja’s webinar, which I had the pleasure of joining, is wow!! A great tag team of OT and SLP, with incredibly practical advice for managing our children now and always.

-ADR has launched its consultation services to multiple CAS providers across former Central East Region.

-Job descriptions have been updated and finalized by Tracy Halliday and Joanne G. Thank you Tracy and Joanne.

– Marina, using Facebook live, will be answering questions on children’s mental health this evening.

-Our community outreach workers Karen, Alyssa , Uma and Nathalie G. are doing a great job with waitlist management.

-Thank you Larisa and Cindy for supporting emergency daycare workers via single session consultations.

-Thank you Joanne P. for being on-site much of this week managing all our properties, PPE, mole infestation, etc.

-Thank you Onika for continuing to hunt down PPE.

-Thank you Ramin and Tom for your minute by minute IT support.

-Thank you planners of our first virtual baby shower…congratulations Victoria!

So much happening so hard to acknowledge everyone!!!

As Ontario is on the cusp of a planful and slow reopening, organizationally we are also beginning our early days planning around what a safe transition plan might look like.

Our return to onsite work priorities are to :

  1. Hear our staff regarding their return to onsite work concerns.
  2. Protect  the health and well being of all our staff and clients while on and off premises.
  3. Prepare our staff  for a safe return to onsite work.
  4. Support our staff and clients with all that they need as they transition back.
  5. Care for our staff throughout this period, however long it takes.

In the coming weeks there will be a quick survey to all staff asking for input on your return to work concerns and areas that you want us  to be most mindful of.  Our draft  post pandemic return to onsite work plan will then be finalized based on Public Health recommendations, Infection Control Specialist recommendations and your input. 


Enjoy your weekend and stay safe.

Week 7 announcement from the Chief Executive Officer

Hello Everyone.

End of week 7 moving into week 8 and by all accounts we are all still healthy. As many of you probably have heard the Ministry of Health has asked York Hills  to be accountable for our time and for our services by completing  a somewhat detailed weekly reporting template. This has meant that we have had to look even further into our service delivery approaches and react quickly and accordingly. The good news is that we have been well ahead of the game in moving all of our services onto a virtual platform. The important next step for us all is to fully establish these services as viable treatment options, that are reaching all those in need and producing effective outcomes. This ultimately means that we need all hands on deck, everyone is being asked to help out. Our organizational waitlist continues to grow and as such we will be redeploying staff as needed to target our areas of  greatest need. More to come on this over the coming weeks.  

This last week, as with most other weeks, has been very busy with many exciting accomplishments to note in no particular order:

Virtual day treatment classrooms have launched as a pilot…so far so good.

EFST Community Of Practice with Joanne Dolhanty was well received with plans to offer many more such opportunities.

Call-In service volume is continuing to grow and we are looking at extending the hours.

York Hills has received RBC funding to  hire  two 1 year contract navigator positions. Thank you Donna and Simone.

York Hills participated in a Youth Homelessness strategy hosted by 360 kids.

Marina provided an amazing CBT workshop on managing anxiety during these times.

Abner had 82 participants in his Conscious Parenting workshop.

Eleonnora, Marina and Laurie led staff wellness activities.

ADR team will be launching a consultation service to 6 CAS partner agencies across the former Central East Region.

Mediation services with Deb and Ann at the helm is providing invaluable Mediation services.

Our very own Nancy will be producing a bi-weekly newsletter to keep us all smiling and better informed.

Joanne and Onika continue to purchase PPE wherever they can find it.

Live-In treatment staff are forever persistent in delivering 24 hour care to our clients. Thank you everyone on that front-line.

Management have reviewed and approved clinical constructs document, soon to be circulated agency wide. Thank you Lisa for your work on this.

Last but not least I would like to recognize our very own Dr. Vardy.  As some of you know, Dr. Vardy not only works for York Hills but also Mackenzie Health Hospital. What most of you may not know is that as a hospital employee she has continued to provide her services on-sight at the Mackenzie Health, also picking up on-call shifts as required. Thank you Dr. Vardy from all of us here at York Hills for not only supporting us but also our York Region community.

Take care of yourselves and have a great weekend.

Week 6 announcement from the Chief Executive Officer

Happy Friday Everyone.

As we move into week 7,  I take comfort in the recent Public Health report that the  Ontario Covid-19  trajectory of cases is beginning to flatten and that our government is starting to consider a plan to slowly transition us back to our former lives.  The actual implementation of this plan may still be sometime away and any plan that is implemented will be based on a  “phased-in” model. I believe the Ontario governments phased-in model will start with only certain areas of our society returning back to work, etc. (typically where risk of exposure is believed to be lowest).

From the York Hills perspective, we continue to work on a draft of a “post pandemic return to work plan” with considerations to developing a “phased-in” model. It is important for each of you to note that the health of our staff and clients will remain the priority in any next steps ( which  may still be months away).  Please take note that the new  virtual clinical and administrative processes, programs and skills being developed today will enable us to continue to  deliver our services until such time as we are physically able to fully return to work. The investments you are each making today in these alternative modalities of service delivery are critical elements in creating  a safe and effective agency post pandemic return to work plan.  

There are so many virtual stories of creative York Hills service delivery that we are hopeful will  drive our therapeutic work into the future. Here are just a few examples:

Matt  and Karen R. delivered a few kid friendly educational puppet shows to our Day Treatment clients.

Intake Network hosted by Janet had dozens of organizations participating and sharing.

Day treatment team and IT is soon to launch a virtual classroom.

Amy and Ariel delivered an on-line live webinar on understanding Anxiety to an audience of over 80 participants.

Uma delivered a Tripe P webinar to about 50 participants.

Laurie, Nathaline, Marina and Eleonora delivered wellness breaks to dozens of staff.

Lisa V. supported the development of many of our webinars.

CCAAS team completed another virtual assessment and consultation with both internal and external staff present.

Zero-6 used virtual play therapy to deliver sessions.

Here to Help phone line has started to pick up on calls.

Joanne P and Onika continue to locate and purchase PPE.

Our Live in treatment staff team, while wearing surgical masks, are doing a great job of delivering care.

Nancy sewing more and more masks.

Lisa V., Ramin and Anna for hosting zoom training.


Thank you and stay safe…and keep smiling!!!!

Letters from the Chief Executive Officer

Good Afternoon Everyone.

Week 3, with all of its “ups and downs,”  has indeed almost come to a close for many of us as we all settle further into our new “normal”. For many it has been a week of new challenges, stresses, and for some, even a week of new found opportunities. For others, like our steadfast Residential Team, it has been a week of  being on the front-line and  persevering to  almost seamlessly deliver an essential service  in a world of many unknowns. What I am very happy to report is that I have not received a single report of ill health from any of our staff! Truly remarkable and a blessing!!!

Again, I want to extend my full gratitude to each and every one of you for all that you do each and every day. I was asked yesterday, as I attended Robin Marshment’s  CAS Hosted Services team meeting, what I have learned about myself through this COVID-19 process?  What I reflected back to her team  was how absolutely dependent I am on every single one of you across York Hills and how remarkably comfortable I am with openly admitting that. It’s each and every one of you that is truly helping to run this organization, and this organization, I am proud to say,  is Open  for Business! Deemed an essential service or not by the government, I believe we all immediately felt  a moral obligation to do what we could in whatever way we could in this time of unprecedented need.

For those of you that may not already know or for those that want to know I have attached  a brief summary of all currently available York Hills services:


-Our Intake department is open and accepting new referrals.

-We have a huge waitlist (400 plus) and we are actively offering waitlist supports to all clients waiting for services.

-We are delivering all our community therapy services via technology (Play Therapy, COMPASS, Goal Focused Therapy, Brief Therapy Sessions, etc.). 

-Our respite program is operating remotely.

-Our residential program is operating (residential is in process of assessing a child for the 7th bed). 

-We are launching a barrier free call-in service next week for all community members 0-18 years and their caregivers.

Day Treatment assessments are continuing as is DT clinical support services via technology.

Navigation Services for the community is available via stand-alone phone line.  

Assessment and Consultations team is offering consultations.

CAS partnership programs are operating via technology.

-ADR services are operating.

Family Mediation services are being delivered via technology.

-Lots of workshops being delivered with a mental health focus (many more to come).

-Mental health and coping resources distribution.

There’s more happening at York Hill’s but the above list captures the main functions of our essential services.  We will keep this list updated as it evolves. Hospitals and 310-COPE are inundated and really can’t manage the volumes. The more we can dp the more we help our community.

For those that are not working this weekend please take the time to rest,  recharge and enjoy time with your loved ones.

Stay home and stay safe…your health is our priority.   

Updated Letter from Chief Executive Officer

Letter From Chief Executive Officer

Walk-In Clinic

In the interest of supporting the ongoing efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 to our community, please note that our Walk-In Counselling Clinic will be closed until further notice. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause.


CAREGIVER WORKSHOPS: Please note that our caregiver workshops will be cancelled until the end of April 2020.
Workshops within this time include:
❌ Triple P Seminar Series (March 10, 24, 31)
❌ Many Faces of Anxiety (March 24)
❌ Bringing Your Family into Focus (April 27)
Please stay tuned as we continue to monitor the situation and we will update everyone as soon as possible

Family Mediation Information Services

Family Mediation Services

Please note in response to public health concerns due to COVID 19 the Superior Court of Justice is suspending all court hearings, please do not come to court.

The Family Law Information Centre (FLIC) and on-site mediation has also been suspended and the FLIC is closed until further notice. All scheduled Mandatory Information Program (MIP) sessions have been cancelled and will be rescheduled to a future undetermined date. All parties will be notified by mail once normal activities resume.

The Family Mediation and Information Service will continue to operate in a limited capacity via phone and email. If you would like to speak to one of our Information and Referral Coordinators regarding community service information and non-legal resources related to family law such as helpful websites, and family law guides or if you would like information or a referral to our Off-site Family Mediation Service please
call 289-380-7088 or email at

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