Province Announces Stabilization Unit for Youth With Complex Needs to Open at Marymound in September

August 19, 2015

Secure Facility to Focus on Mental Health Services, New Supports for Children, Youth in CFS Care: Minister Irvin-Ross

A new, secure treatment facility for youth with complex needs will open in September at Marymound as part of the Manitoba government’s long-term strategy to better help youth and children in care while moving towards a holistic wrap-around approach to service delivery, Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross announced today.

“Children coming into care are often struggling with multiple challenges including addictions and mental health problems and don’t know where to turn for help.  These complex challenges make it very difficult for them to cope in the community and makes them vulnerable to predators,” Minister Irvin-Ross said.  “This new facility and program will help youth in care with complex needs cope with those challenges so they can stabilize their lives, rejoin their families, succeed in school and build hope for a better future.”

The new program is being jointly developed by Manitoba Family Services and Marymound, which works with youth and families by offering culturally diverse programs in a safe environment.  Marymound’s programs are designed to meet the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of young people in care.

When it opens in early September, the facility will be able to care for up to six youths with complex needs and will focus on addressing their mental health issues, the minister said.

“One of the most significant challenges for the child welfare system is being able to provide the range of services required to support youth who, because of the trauma they have experienced in their lives, have very complex needs and challenging behaviours,” said Jay Rodgers, CEO, Marymound.  “Through this new and innovative program, we hope to greatly reduce the risk and exploitation that these youth experience almost on a daily basis, and assist them to overcome their challenges and succeed.”

The minister noted the facility will offer holistic wrap-around programming to meet a range of therapeutic and residential treatment needs, representing an innovative approach designed specifically for youth with complex needs in Manitoba.

In addition to a safe, secure living environment, services will be provided by a multi-disciplinary team and include comprehensive assessments, psychiatric and psychological services, occupational therapy, a variety of treatment services, specialized educational programming, cultural and spiritual care, recreation, work experience, nutritional services, and family education.

“The youth at risk population face a multitude of challenges and have many needs.  We hope this new program will serve those youth with the most complex needs so they receive the specialized treatment that is needed to address the trauma and challenges they’ve experienced,” said Josie Hill, one of the founding members of Blue Thunderbird Family Care.

The minister indicated Marymound is currently working with Manitoba Family Services to develop another program that will be specifically designed to assist with the transition back to family, foster care or independent living once these youth have stabilized.  The wrap-around approach and support from the multi-disciplinary team will continue to be available as these youth transition from the stabilization unit.  Marymound hopes to open this second phase program by spring 2016, the minister added.

To further meet the needs of children and youth with complex needs, Manitoba Family Services in partnership with REACH Youth Services, developed an additional residential care facility for adolescent males who present with complex needs and may have had involvement with the justice system.  This facility opened in May 2015.

In addition, the department in collaboration with New Directions and St. Amant Centre have developed or are in the process of developing more placement options for children with disabilities and complex needs.

In the fall of 2014, Family Services in collaboration with Project Neechewam opened a crisis stabilization unit for high-risk girls that are victims of sexual exploitation.  Manitoba Family Services is also in the process of developing a safe and secure treatment facility for youth that have been or are being sexually exploited.  Services will include mental health services, trauma services, addictions treatment, sexual abuse treatment and victim support.

In addition to this new unit at Marymound and other new services developed for children and youth with complex needs, in the past year Manitoba Family Services has:

  • overhauled the emergency foster bed program.  Steps include:
    • ending the use of hotels as emergency placements. Currently there are no children in hotels in Manitoba outside of Winnipeg and there have been no children in hotels in Winnipeg since May 11;
    • opening 120 new emergency beds, which are a combination of foster home and emergency shelter beds;
    • hiring more than 140 new, highly-trained staff; and
    • opening 12 new sibling beds in partnership with Blue Thunderbird and Dreamer Catcher venture.
  • created additional beds for children with complex needs by:
    • opening Strong Hearts, operated by Project Neechewam, a six-bed secured facility for sexually exploited girls; and
    • opening a three-bed facility for adolescent boys with complex needs through REACH Inc.
  • invested in strengthening families and preventing children from coming into care by:
    • increasing funding by 60 per cent to prevention funding model for off-reserve services to support families and prevent children coming into care;
    • expanding the Families First home-visitor program to provide services to 40 to 60 additional families.  This program has been shown to reduce the likelilhood of participating children coming into care within one year of birth by 25 per cent;
    • launching the Circle of Care pilot project with Sagkeeng First Nation to provide comprehensive support to families who are struggling and to prevent children from coming into care;
    • expanding the COACH program, a 24-hour wrap-around program for children with extreme behavioural, emotional, social and academic issues in their home, school and community settings;
    • partnering with University of Winnipeg to support youth in care in the Tuition Waiver program;
    • accepting all of Commissioner Hughes’ recommendations from the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry;
    • working with the four governing CFS Authorities in reviewing and implementing the Hughes inquiry recommendations; and
    • introducing legislation that would expand the powers of the Office of the Children’s Advocate.
  • invested in initiatives to reduce poverty by:
    • investing $22 million in Manitoba Rent Assist this year, a single low-income rent assistance program for all Manitobans living in private housing.  The minister noted this will complete Manitoba’s commitment to increase shelter benefits for EIA participants through Rent Assist to 75% of Median Market Rent (MMR);
    • helping young parents leave social assistance by providing targeted supports and training. Since 2013, more than 200 young parents have left social assistance;
    • creating more than 14,000 additional funded child-care spaces since 1999 and having the second lowest child care fees outside of Quebec, the minister said;
    • increasing Manitoba’s minimum wage since 1999 to $10.70 per hour from $6 per hour.  The minister noted a further increase to $11 is planned for this fall;
    • ending the clawback of the National Child Benefit from families on EIA, returning more than $40 million per year to low-income families; and
    • investing in programs to help low-income Manitobans get the training and opportunities that they need to move into good jobs.  Through programs like Manitoba Works, the province is incorporating essential and employability skills training with paid work experience, increasing people’s long-term job prospects while meeting employer demand for skilled workers in Manitoba.
    • providing Healthy Baby Prenatal Benefit and Community Support programs through Healthy Child Manitoba, including a financial benefit and practical information to pregnant women and new parents throughout the province.  The programs encourage early and regular prenatal care, provide access to a wide range of resources, build parents’ confidence and awareness of health and parenting choices, and foster awareness of healthy early childhood development.

The minister of Family Services is one of 10 ministers active in the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet.  Recognizing that children and youth with complex needs benefit when multiple systems work together to support their strengths and address interconnected issues the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet (HCCC) established the interdepartmental and cross-sectoral Children and Youth with Complex Needs Committee (CYCN) and related Task Groups to co-ordinate the work of various departments and agencies towards improving outcomes for children and youth with complex needs across Manitoba.

Established in 2000 and legislated in 2007, the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet includes the ministers of Children and Youth Opportunities; Aboriginal and Northern Affairs; Education and Advanced Learning; Family Services; Health, Healthy Living and Seniors; Housing and Community Development; Jobs and the Economy; Justice; and Labour and Immigration.  The Healthy Child Manitoba strategy continues to focus on evidence-based prevention and early intervention from the prenatal period through the school years, in partnership with communities.

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