Community Integration of Services for young children and their families mean better outcomes for children in KFL&A

KINGSTON, ONT. March 1, 2022 – An exciting initiative has been brought forward through a partnership including United Way, City of Kingston and Family and Children’s Services. Families with young children will soon be able to access a multi-disciplinary community Centre with a culturally focused, family-centered approach containing services provided by community partners collaborating to serve young children (ages 0-6) and their families. This project is part of the provincial transformation of the child welfare system, hearing directly from families what would be of most benefit for them and their children.

The preventative need for this integrated service model is well documented as, last year, approximately 1250 child welfare referrals were investigated with the most prevalent issues being related to substance use, intimate partner violence (IPV), and mental health.

Family and Children’s Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (FACSFLA) is thrilled to be a part of this new initiative. “We know the need is growing and we are committed to finding creative solutions to help young children and their families,” said Sonia Gentile, Executive Director of FACSFLA. “This holistic approach will include the crucial voice of the people we are hoping to serve.”

With a focus on prevention and early support, the project envisions a Centre to help families with better coordination, and increased understanding of which services are available and how to access them. Young children and their families will be provided access to services with a cultural approach that is inclusive of identity, race, language, and lived experience of all community members, including but not limited to First Nations, Inuit, Métis, Black, LGBTQ2S+ identities. Many of these are overrepresented in the child welfare system.

“This Centre approach creates a ‘one stop shop’ for services, particularly when a family is in crisis,” says Ruth Noordegraaf, Director of Social Services & Housing at the City of Kingston “Ultimately the Centre will reduce barriers for services that can help prevent further crisis or escalation of need.”

“Using a coordinated Centre model will focus services to include more community partners for a supportive team approach. We’re also excited about the peer and network support for people who may thrive by connecting with people with similar heritage or in the family’s network.” says Bhavana Varma, CEO, United Way of KFL&A.

Turning proposal into reality

Work is just beginning, and community partners are working together to ensure that the voice of children and families will be at the forefront of every stage of planning, and that agencies and partners are engaged in the development. Decisions on a convenient and centralized location is currently underway for the Centre that is expected to open later this year.