Youth group engagement

Youth & Family Engagement at YWHO

Youth and Family Engagement is a core component of the YWHO model. Collaboration with youth and family members takes place across all aspects of YWHO service delivery and at both provincial and local levels. 

Evidence shows that when young people have a voice and active role in treatment and service planning, access to mental health services is enhanced, agencies are able to be more responsive to community needs, community development is bolstered and young people are encouraged to be more civic-minded.

Youth and families are involved from the start

The central values that guide YWHO’s youth and family engagement are:

  1. Co-creation and co-direction
  2. Increasing visibility and uplifting youth and family voices
  3. Collaboration across sectors and stakeholders
  4. Equity and access
  5. Evaluation and continuous quality improvement to integrate into our models.

Co-creation and co-direction - “Nothing about us without us”

YWHO and hub sites work to create opportunities to embed youth and family insights at every stage of the process for all projects and initiatives.

The aim is that youth and family members are active decision-makers and equal partners in treatment and service delivery at the individual, organizational, and system levels.

Increasing visibility and uplifting youth and family voices

Youth engagement is a strengths-based approach focused on creating more relevant supports and programming for those receiving services.

Offering opportunities for youth and family members allows them to share their knowledge and experiences for YWHO to integrate into our models.

Collaboration across sectors and stakeholders is key

Youth and their families have complex and diverse needs that require a wide range of social and healthcare services.

Collaboration across sectors and stakeholders means YWHO can strengthen networks of support across entire communities.

Improving care through evaluation and quality assessments

YWHO and local hubs consistently provide avenues for dialogue and feedback, while also offering structured evaluation and measurement of program successes. This includes providing advisors consistent updates, sharing feedback and recommendations about the meaningful contributions they have made to YWHO, and signaling how youth and family insights have been implemented across YWHO initiatives.  

Focused on equity and access

The systemic exclusion from healthcare and supportive services experienced by racialized, Indigenous, gender and sexually diverse, precariously housed, disabled, newcomers or migrants, rural non-anglo, and other marginalized youth and families can be challenged through meaningful, consistent, and reciprocal engagement with individuals with lived experiences and diverse perspectives.

YWHO has expressed commitment to building relationships with youth and families, which requires continuous and intentional planning, evaluation, funding, and action. These relationships contribute significantly to YWHO’s work to remove barriers, increase supports, and strengthen relationships in hub communities.

YWHO’s four provincial advisories:

YWHO works with four provincial advisory groups:

  • Provincial Family Advisory Council (PFAC)
  • Provincial Youth Advisory Council (PYAC)
  • Youth Digital Action Group (DAG)
  • Provincial Indigenous Youth and Family Advisory Circle (PIYFAC) 

This work developed a level of collaboration and strong youth and family relationships that have been essential to the development of YWHO’s high-quality programs and overall success.

Learn about YWHO’s advisories

Building Youth Engagement at YWHO

At the inception of YWHO, youth and family engagement strategies were built into the core framework by the Knowledge Intitute on Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions (formerly known as The Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health). Youth and family members were invited to serve on local working groups and provincial advisory committees to help Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario better understand what works, what doesn’t, and why - leading to improved outcomes, enhanced youth ownership of service delivery, and responsiveness to the changing needs of youth.

The Knowledge Institute established two Provincial Advisory Groups for YWHO - the Provincial Family Advisory Council (PFAC) and the Provincial Youth Advisory Council (PYAC). The Knowledge Institute also worked with Shkaabe Makwa at CAMH to support the development of the Provincial Indigenous Youth and Family Advisory Circle (PIYFAC).

Collaboration with youth and families

This work developed a level of collaboration and strong youth and family relationships that have been essential to the development of YWHO’s high quality programs and overall success.

The YWHO model relies on flexible, evidence-based approaches to creating supports. Similarly, our approaches to youth and family engagements are always shifting to reflect youth and family feedback, promising practices, and the growth of the YWHO network.