An early intervention program is coming to Lanark, Leeds and Grenville to prevent youth from getting involved with the criminal justice system. The program, called Intersections, is aimed at children and youth who may have mental health, developmental disabilities, and/or substance use issues and who have had an initial contact with police services.

Community partners have been working together over the past nine months to customize and put the program in place in Lanark, Leeds and Grenville.

To introduce the Intersections program to the community, a one-day training event will be held on January 14, 2015, 9 AM to 3:30 PM, at North Grenville Municipal Centre in Kemptville, ON.

This event,aimed at professionals working with youth who have mental health, developmental and substance use problems. Teachers, social service professionals, police officers, family support workers, and allied professionals were in attendance.

The training session include:
• An overview of the new Intersections program and how it will be applied in Lanark, Leeds and Grenville;
• A look at health equity and supporting tools, including the Health Equity Impact Assessment;
• Presentations from local community support services, including addictions, mental health, developmental disabilities, and community policing.
This event was presented by the Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Intersections Steering Committee, a regional implementation team within the Champlain Youth Justice Service Collaborative (CYSJC). CYSJC is one of 18 service collaboratives across Ontario. Systems Improvement through Service Collaboratives is one initiative in Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, which is sponsored by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

About Intersections
Intersections is an early intervention program that focuses on navigation and coordination of services for children and youth with suspected mental health, developmental disabilities and/or substance use issues, who are at risk of becoming justice involved. The aim is to improve well-being and reduce involvement with police services.

Systems Improvement through Service Collaboratives is one of the initiatives under Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy. The service collaboratives across Ontario are focusing on improving transitions for children and youth. Four of them are dedicated to improving transitions between the mental health and justice systems. As sponsor of the initiative, CAMH is providing support to communities to implement new programs.

The CYJC brings together 74 agencies and organizations from Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, Ottawa, Prescott-Russell, Renfrew County and Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry. These agencies work in the sectors of health, mental health, addictions, education, justice as well as those serving the region’s priority populations: Francophones, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.

The CYJSC identified “navigating youth through various pathways to appropriate individualized supportive services” as a system gap. To address this system gap, the service collaborative adapted the Intersections program from the Youth Justice Liaison and Diversion Model, which was developed by the National Child and Maternal Health Intelligence Network, Public Health England.