What is the system challenge?

Police in the Champlain region often receive calls for social service-related issues, ongoing crisis incidents, and mental health problems 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?

The Champlain Youth Justice Service Collaborative (CYJSC) with help from the Provincial System Support Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental health implemented “Intersections,” an evidence-informed early intervention program that helps children and youth (age 8 to 17) access appropriate supports and services before they become involved in the justice system.

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?

Full Implementation

Intersections is active in Lanark, Leeds and Grenville; Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry; and Renfrew County. Over 66 partners are actively implementing and providing Intersections supports.

How do we know it works?

The Intersections Worker listened to me and talked to my son. Yes, that was the biggest piece. And now we have help, and it is working. I could not be happier.

— Family Member

of youth referred to Intersections have had no police contact within three months of their referral to Intersections.


children, youth, and families in Champlain have been provided support by Intersections as of May 2016.


of child and youth referrals received from police have been appropriate.

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
  • family members

Next Steps

Check out how we are helping expand Intersections in the following places in Ontario.


For more information, please contact:

Gord Boyd, Co-Chair, Director of Youth Justice, Youth Service Bureau

Kathy Neff, Co-Chair, Executive Director, youturn / Executive Director, Robert Smart Centre