New Path Youth and Family Services Board Chair and CEO Report 2019-2020
Paul Shervill, Board Chair
Elizabeth McKeeman, CEO
2019-2020 has turned out to be quite an extraordinary year that none of us could have ever predicted. Amidst this global pandemic, children, youth and their families continue to be front and centre in our work and our minds. Since mid-March we have been working hard to ensure families continue to receive vital mental health services, although differently, because of COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions. While this year’s report focuses on the entire year, we do feel the need to mention COVID, since it has meant such tremendous changes to the delivery of our services. Next year’s report will highlight the work we are currently doing to ensure that every family in Simcoe County continues to receive the child and youth mental health services they need to thrive. And, we would certainly be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the tremendous effort of our staff and our clients to adapt quickly to a new way of delivering and receiving services. We know that New Path services are vital and we are so proud to share with you that there were no interruptions in services being provided. What we witnessed was our agency pulling together in unprecedented times to ensure our services continued seamlessly as we transitioned from in-person to call-in counselling.
In keeping with the theme of this year’s Annual General Meeting as selected by the youth we serve, “Where Everyone Fits”, our report touches on New Path’s fit.
Working collaboratively, as incoming CEO and Board Chair, we have the privilege of a strong Board of Directors and a transition plan that has guided us into smoothly transitioning into these new roles. We are working together to ensure the strategic initiatives continue to guide us in our work while simultaneously being flexible enough to allow us to bend in this ever changing landscape of the child and youth mental health sector. We are embracing the challenges and new opportunities this year has brought with it and are ever mindful and grateful for the incredible team of colleagues with whom we work.
We have now begun the second year under our four-year strategic plan. In addition to being flexible because of service delivery changes, we have also had to accommodate a change in our reporting relationship to the Provincial government. We now report to the Ministry of Health and this has brought some new processes and procedures.
Also, the Province has begun to implement the Ontario Health Team (OHT) policy which is designed to result in more community-based health care services. We are actively engaged in reviewing our community health care relationships and our business model under this policy to ensure we find the best service model for children and their families.
As a result of these shifts, we have made some very important strategic decisions related to the OHT’s. The regional OHT is an ideal fit and we are well positioned to represent mental health in the area of specialized populations; specifically child and youth mental health. The regional OHT has made a great deal of progress and work is underway, though it is less clear how innovative models such as ours will fit in the overall provincial model of OHT’s. That question will be answered in time and we have been encouraged to continue leading the work related to our priority group of mental health and addictions in children and youth.
Regionally, we’ve also had to think about where we fit, as Lead Agency for children’s mental health services, in the Simcoe County ecosystem. We have chosen to partner with the Barrie OHT group and other Barrie-based partners, such as Family Health Teams and Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH), because their youth mental health services complement ours.
As always, we continue this work in order to best serve and advocate for children, youth and families in Simcoe County as we work together in seeking the best solutions to meet families’ mental health needs.
Our work is made easier thanks to a strong committed Board of Directors whose work is always focused on how to best serve children, youth and families in our area. Our professional staff are committed and continue to be responsive to families’ needs. Our leadership team has welcomed new members who have meshed seamlessly together and continue to support our strategic priorities.
Our Board remains engaged and supportive and our families and youth share with us parts of their lives. To all of you, including our funders, a huge thank you!
Liz and Paul