What is Intersections?

Intersections is an evidence-informed early intervention program that helps children and youth (17 years of age and under) access appropriate supports and services before they become involved in the justice system.

Intersections allows police to direct children, youth, and their families to access appropriate support services in order to reduce further interactions with police and the justice system. These services often include help with mental wellbeing, addictions, developmental needs, parenting and family supports, and help within the education system.

Police are now able to respond to younger children instead of having to wait to intervene when they turn 12 (when the Youth Criminal Justice Act becomes applicable).

The program involves three steps:

First Contact – Police respond to an incident where the child or youth meets inclusion criteria. Police obtain consent from the parent or guardian before sending a referral form to the Intersections coordinator.

Engagement and Screening – The Intersections coordinator meets with the child or youth and their parent or guardian to determine service pathways given their unique strengths and needs.

Interventions and Pathways – The Intersections coordinator refers the child or youth and their parent or guardian to specified agencies in the community and stays connected with the family during the referral period until they are successfully engaged in services.

The program was developed by the Champlain Youth Justice Service Collaborative (CYJSC) with help from the Provincial System Support Program (PSSP) at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

All About Intersections

What is the system challenge?

Across Canada, 75 to 85 percent of calls to police are in response to incidents for which no charges are laid, and many of these calls involve individuals with mental health problems and addictions concerns that are best handled by social services agencies.[i]

Canada’s youth justice legislation, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, only applies to children and youth between the ages of 12 and 17. For police, there has typically been no clear and consistent approach for responding to incidents involving children under 12, nor is there a consistent approach for identifying the service needs of children and youth at their earliest contact with police.

Police in the Champlain region reported that they often receive calls for social service-related issues, ongoing crisis incidents, and mental health problems for children less than 12. Due to the limitations of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the CYJSC also identified that:

  • there wasn’t a clear approach for responding to children under 12 who come in contact with police;
  • there wasn’t a consistent approach for identifying the mental health and addiction service needs of these children and youth at their earliest contact with the justice system; and
  • considerable police resources were being invested in responding to incidents for which charges cannot be laid and for which social service agencies need to be involved.

The CYJSC brought together 150 partners from diverse sectors across five regions to develop Intersections. The sectors included: community; justice; police; mental health and addictions; education; primary care; developmental and child welfare; and family members.

Intersections Development – Visual Storyline

[i] Report by Russell & Taylor, 2014 - PDF

Which communities have implemented Intersections?

Intersections was developed to be flexible for the unique and diverse needs of the Champlain region and was first implemented in:

  • Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry;
  • Leeds, Lanark and Grenville; and
  • Renfrew County

Intersections has since been adapted and implemented in four further communities:

  • Prescott Russell;
  • Ottawa;
  • Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington; and
  • Hastings & Prince Edward County

What do we know about how well Intersections is working?

A snapshot of police contact data in one Champlain community – Leeds, Lanark and Grenville – suggested that 77% of youth referred to Intersections had no further police contact within three months of referral and 71% remained free from police contact within six months of referral.

Qualitative interviews with Intersections stakeholders also suggest that the program may be contributing to improvements in the following areas:

  • youth/family engagement in service planning;
  • sense of well-being for youth; and
  • reduced occurrences of anti-social behaviour.
?What's this?

Full Implementation

As a scale up, Ottawa will be using the same evaluation plan, framework, and data gathering tools as Champlain Intersections. CAMH will support an evaluation of Ottawa Intersections in the summer of 2017.

For more information, please contact:

Jeff Rocca, Knowledge Broker

Region Intersections Host Contact
Region: Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Intersections Host Contact: Dan O’Rourke, Laurencrest Youth Services Dan.ORourke@laurencrest.ca | 613-933-6362 | https://laurencrest.com/new-intersection-program-gets-early-traction/
Region: Leeds, Lanark and Grenville Intersections Host Contact: Sue Poldervaart, RNJ Youth Services sue@rnjyouth.com | 613-342-4238 | https://www.rnjyouth.com/intersections.php
Region: Renfrew County Intersections Host Contact: Debra Woodfine,The Phoenix Centre for Children & Families dwoodfine@phoenixctr.com | 613-432-7936 ext. 322 | https://phoenixctr.com/intersections-program/
Region: Prescott Russell Intersections Host Contact: Dan O’Rourke, Laurencrest Youth Services Dan.ORourke@laurencrest.ca | 613-933-6362 https://laurencrest.com/new-intersection-program-gets-early-traction/|
Region: Ottawa Intersections Host Contact: Ian Wiseberg, Crossroads Children’s Mental Health Centre iwiseberg@crossroadschildren.ca | 613-723-1623 ext. 302 | https://crossroadschildren.ca/sample-page/intersections-and-police-referrals/
Region: Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Intersections Host Contact: Shawn Quigley, Youth Diversion Program squigley@youthdiversion.org | 613-548-4535 | http://www.youthdiversion.org/index.cfm/programs/intersection-program/
Region: Hastings & Prince Edward County Intersections Host Contact: Jessica Anderson (North Hastings), North Hastings Children’s Services janderson@nhcs.ca | 613-332-0179 ext. 104 | https://www.nhcs.ca/intersectionsKelly Nolan (South Hastings and Prince Edward County)Community Organized Support and Preventionadmin@stleonardshome.ca613-966-7410http://www.cosp.ca/index.php/our-programs/intersections/


Finally we don’t have to wait until a youth turns 12 and breaks the law to intervene. Now we can get in before the cycle of police contact really starts to get serious.

— Police officer

Intersections is one of the few methods we have for keeping kids from going down the wrong road.

— Community partner

It was wonderful having a police officer offering to help and not punishing. The officer was awesome and my son really opened up to him.

— Participants' parent

I am thankful for the Intersections coordinator as she made me feel like I wasn’t alone and I could count on someone if I needed help.

— Participants' parent