What is the system challenge?

Police in the Ottawa region often receive calls for social service-related issues, ongoing crisis incidents, and mental health challenges for children less than 12 years of age. Canada’s youth justice legislation, the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), only applies to children and youth between the ages of 12 and 17. This means that:

  • there is no clear approach for responding to children under 12 who come in contact with police;
  • there is no consistent approach for identifying the mental health and addiction service needs of these children and youth at their earliest contact with the justice system;
  • considerable police resources (75 to 85 percent of service calls) are invested in responding to incidents for which charges cannot be laid and for which social service agencies need to be involved (Russell & Taylor, 2014 - PDF)

What are we doing about it?

Intersections was first implemented in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry; Leeds, Lanark and Grenville; and Renfrew County by the Champlain Youth Justice Service Collaborative (CYJSC) with support from the Provincial System Support Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental health. This program was developed to be flexible for the unique and diverse needs of the Champlain region. It was also identified that further adaptation was required to meet the unique needs of the Ottawa community.

Intersections helps police direct children, youth and their families to the right service, by the right provider, at the right time. Children and youth are able to receive supports for mental health, addictions, or developmental disabilities, as needed.

Police are now able to be responsive to youth and families instead of having to “wait” to get them help when they turn 12 (when the YCJA becomes applicable), or until they engage in activities that could lead to a chargeable offense.  

The program involves three steps:

  1. First Contact – Police respond to an incident where the child or youth meets inclusion criteria. Police obtain consent from parent/guardian before sending a Referral Form to the Intersections Host.
  2. Engagement and Screening – Intersections Worker meets with the child or youth and their parent/guardian to determine service pathways given their unique strengths and needs.
  3. Interventions and Pathways – Intersections Worker completes referral as per referral protocol with specified agency and stays connected during the referral until the file can be closed.
?What's this?

Initial Implementation

All training sessions to support Champlain Intersections have been rolled out and each partner agency was coached to build their own, agency-level implementation plan. The Champlain Intersections SCITs took the lead in supporting the implementation of Intersections, and Ottawa Police began referring youth and families to the program. 

Who is involved?

This Service Collaborative brought together 150 partners from diverse sectors across five regions, including:

  • community;
  • justice;
  • police;
  • mental health and addictions;
  • education;
  • primary care;
  • developmental and child welfare; and
  • family members.

Next Steps

Check out how community partners are actively providing Intersections supports and their achievements in Champlain region.

Champlain (Link to Project page)

Check out how we are supporting the implementation of Intersections in the following places in Ontario:

Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington area (Link to Scale Up project page)

For more information, please contact:

Marie-Lou Meawasige, Implementation Specialist/ Spécilaliste de la mise en œuvre

Ian Wiseberg, Manager