Children and Youth Action Committee - Workplan
The Community and Neighbourhood Services Committee recommends the adoption of the following communication
(February 26, 1999) from Councillor Olivia Chow, Child and Youth Advocate, subject to amending the 1999
Workplan of the Children and Youth Action Committee to provide that discussion take place on taxation that
would support families:
To provide the Community and Neighbourhood Services Committee with a status report and work plan for the coming year
for the Childrens and Youth Action Committee.
Funding Sources, Financial Implications and Impact Statement:
The Children and Youth Action Committee is requesting a budget of $150,000.00 to implement the workplan. The 1999
budget request has been included in the Task Forces Budget which is part of the Finance Department's Other Corporate
It is recommended that:
(1) Council approve the 1999 workplan for the Children and Youth Action Committee as outlined in Appendix A; and
(2) the appropriate City officials be authorized and directed to take the necessary action to give effect thereto.
The report of the Metro Task Force on Services to Young Children and Families, "The First Duty" recommended the
creation of a Children's Action Committee and a Children's Advocate to develop and implement a Children's Strategy
within the new City of Toronto. Toronto City Council approved these recommendations on January 8, 1998, and appointed
Councillor Olivia Chow as Child Advocate. Since that time, the mandate of the Child Advocate has been expanded to
include youth. As a result the committee has been renamed the Children and Youth Action Committee, and a Youth
Sub-Committee has been established.
In 1998, the Children and Youth Action Committee had an approved budget of $150,000.00 to undertake its activities. For
1999, this same amount has been requested to support the ongoing activities of the Children and Youth Action Committee
and the Youth Sub-Committee. In addition to the budget request, the Committee receives significant in-kind staff support
from the Children's Services Division, the Social Development and Administration Division, Parks and Recreation, Public
Health, Libraries, Clerk's Division, and Urban Planning and Development Services.
Comments and/or Discussion and/or Justification:
The work of the Children and Youth Action Committee is based on the following principles:
(a) Investing in children and youth is key to the future social and economic well-being of the community.
(b) There must be a community-wide commitment to meeting the needs of all children and youth so they may develop their
(c) The City must take a leadership role by establishing a civic vision and civic commitments to children and youth. These
commitments must be reflected in funding and policy decisions.
(d) Adequate funding for childrens and youth services is critical to the success of a civic Children and Youth Strategy.
(e)Children and youth must be engaged in the development of a child friendly city.
Mandate of the Committee:
The Children and Youth Action Committee is not a project or task force in the usual sense. It is an ongoing implementation
committee established to operationalize the directions originally outlined in the "The First Duty" report, and to establish the
Civic Commission on Children and Youth as recommended in the Transition Team final report. The mandate of the
Children and Youth Action Committee is to demonstrably improve the well-being of children and youth in the City of
Toronto by developing a civic Strategy for Children and Youth. The development, implementation and monitoring of this
strategy forms the basis of the ongoing work of the Children and Youth Action Committee. In addition, the Children and
Youth Action Committee brings together a broad range of representatives from the children's services sector and
encourages greater co-operation and co-ordination between those sectors.
(a) Promoting investment in children as a strategic priority within the City.
(b) Evaluating the impact on children and youth of the City's policy and budget decisions.
(c) Ensuring that the City's services for children and youth are accessible, adequately funded and effective.
(d) Undertaking research to assess and improve outcomes for children and youth.
(e) Promoting co-ordination and integration of serve planning and delivery.
(f) Seeking resources from other funding sources to match or supplement the City's financial commitment to children and
(g) Involving children and youth in the development of City policy.
Work to Date:
The Children and Youth Action Committee has been engaged in three key activities over the course of the first year of its
mandate. These include establishing the Committee and the role of the advocate, engaging in ongoing monitoring and
reporting on the status of children and youth issues and services, and involving children and youth in the development of a
more child friendly city.
The Children and Youth Action Committee meets on a monthly basis. In addition, the Advocate meets regularly with City
staff from Children's Services, Social Development and Administration, Parks and Recreation, Public Health, Libraries,
and Urban Planning and Development. This staff team provides support to the Children and Youth Action Committee, the
Child and Youth Advocate and encourages inter-departmental information sharing and co-ordination.
To guide its work and the work of City Council, the Committee has created a civic vision for children through the
development of the Toronto Children's Charter. The Toronto Children's Charter confirms the City's commitment to
creating a social and economic environment in which all children can thrive. In addition, to guide the Children and Youth
Action Committee in their monitoring and reporting of children's well-being, the following vision statement was adopted
by City Council:
"Regardless of the socio-economic status of his/her family and community, every child has the right to childhood
experiences which promote the chances of developing into a healthy, well adjusted and productive adult."
In the area of monitoring and reporting, the Children and Youth Action Committee has developed a broad range of
indicators to measure the well-being of children in the City of Toronto. As a result of this work, an expanded Children's
Report Card will be released in June of 1999. It is anticipated that the Children's Report Card will be issued on a regular
basis to provide ongoing monitoring of children's well-being in the City. It is also anticipated that as information capacities
are enhanced, indicators from a broader spectrum of service areas will be included.
To identify service access and service capacity issues, a research paper, "Taking Stock: A Review of Child Care and
Children's Services" was commissioned by the Children and Youth Action Committee, and the Community Social
Planning Council of Toronto with funding from federal Child Care Visions. This research was conducted to develop a
baseline of child care and other children's services which perform child care functions for families. The research found that
while the quality of children's services in Toronto is generally sound, growth in the number of young children in the City is
occurring at a time when no new program expansion is anticipated. Given the strong link between access to early childhood
developmental opportunities and the attainment of successful outcomes later in life, this reality is worrisome.
In addition, the Committee has evaluated the impact of City budget and policy decisions on children and youth and has
communicated these issues to the Community and Neighbourhood Services Committee, the Budget Committee and to
Council on an ongoing basis. The 1998 budget expanded levels of home visiting by public health nurses to young families
from 300 families to 2,500 families per year. In addition, home visits by trained community volunteers through the Parents
Helping Parents program has also increased, and additional provincial funding for this program has been secured.
Excellence in service delivery and inter-sectoral co-ordination and integration of service planning has been encouraged
through the development of the Best Practices Award.
Children and youth have been engaged in the development of a children and youth civic agenda through the "Advocates for
a Day" initiative, and the establishment of a Youth Cabinet to advise the Child and Youth Advocate. Youth cabinet
members will hold portfolios in areas like Health, Transportation, Housing and Planning. They have begun developing
Youth Assemblies across the City to provide opportunities for the cabinet to speak directly with City Councillors. In
addition, cabinet members will develop position papers on a range issues relevant to youth in the City.
Public awareness of children's and youth issues has been heightened through the regular publication of a Children and
Youth Action Committee Newsletter, a Child Advocate Annual Report, the Children and Youth Action Committee
Website, and the Children's Summit held in February. In addition, the Children and Youth Action Committee participates
in the Ontario Campaign for Kids, a public education campaign with more than 60 participant organizations Province-wide.
An Agenda for Action:
Despite these achievements, there is still much in the "First Duty" which has yet to be realized. Since the "First Duty" was
released in May of 1997 significant change has taken place in the policy and funding environment. The former
municipalities within Metropolitan Toronto have been amalgamated, the City has responsibility for an unprecedented level
of social services as the result of provincial downloading, major reform of education funding has been implemented and
school boards in Toronto have been amalgamated.
The Children and Youth Action Committee will continue to implement the significant body of work already underway. But
in addition, there is a need to reassess opportunities to implement the recommendations in the "First Duty" within the
context of this new environment. In some areas, achieving the goals set out in the "First Duty" will be difficult in the
absence of policy and funding support from the provincial government. In other areas, different sectors with separate
funding and service mandates will have to agree on ways to co-ordinate their services and activities to achieve common
goals. Ultimately, to improve the status of children, goals and targets which are formally adopted by schools boards, the
City and the Province must be set. In the current fiscal and political climate, this will be a challenging task.
Despite these barriers, new opportunities were presented by the social union agreement reached between the Federal and
Provincial Governments earlier this month. After a number of years of Federal Government withdrawal from the social
policy arena, the social union agreement once again legitimizes federal spending power in new social programs. In addition,
the Federal Government and the provinces have committed to develop a National Children's Agenda. There is an important
opportunity to build on the momentum generated through this renewed spirit of partnership.
The Children and Youth Action Committee will capitalize on this opportunity by launching a millennial project focussed
on children. The Committee will seek funding support for this initiative from the Federal Government, private foundations
and the City. Although the details of the millennial project must still be finalized, it is anticipated the project will focus on:
(a)promoting intersectoral co-operation and planning in service delivery; and
(b)developing pilot projects which support best practices research.
Although the Children and Youth Action Committee has met a number of key objectives in the first year of its mandate,
there is much in the "First Duty" which is yet to be realized. In addition to continuing with the significant body of work
already underway, there is a need to reassess opportunities to implement the recommendations in the "First Duty" within
the context of a new policy and funding environment. Despite the barriers created by this new environment, the Committee
will not only maintain the core initiatives already underway, but will also build on the momentum of the social union
agreement to develop a millennial project on children and youth. In addition, the Children and Youth Action Committee
will continue to play a leadership role by bringing a broad range of sectors to the table to plan for more effectively delivered
Children and Youth Action Committee
The Children and Youth Action Committee meets on a monthly basis. A number of initiatives are proposed which fall
within the areas of: Monitoring and Reporting, Public Education/Information, Promoting Intersectoral Service
Co-ordination and Planning, and Youth Initiatives.
(1)Monitoring and Reporting:
Initiative:To develop a youth profile for the City.
Time line:June 1999.
Description:To present a detailed picture of the diverse character and needs of City youth, identify key policy issues,
provide an inventory of youth-specific programs and services, and include youth perspectives on their current conditions
and future prospects. The profile will serve as a basis for service planning and strategy development.
Initiative:To issue a Report Card on Children.
Time line:June 1999.
Description:Indicators of children's well-being will be developed, and outcomes will be presented to serve as a basis for
service planning and strategy development. The development of the report card includes participation from the education
sector, community services, public health, recreation and child welfare sectors.
Initiative:"Taking Stock: A Review of Child Care and Children's Services."
Time line:Initial research released March 1999.
Description:To develop baseline data on the status of child care and children's services in Toronto, and to set up
mechanisms to track and measure change in the accessibility and quality of child care in Toronto in the future.
Initiative:Establishment of Official Plan Work Group
Time line:March 1999.
Description:The Children's and Youth Action Committee will establish an Official Plan Work Group to provide
input into the development of the Official Plan and to ensure the Official Plan embodies the principles established in
the Children's Charter.
Initiative:Maintenance and Expansion of the Children and Youth Action Committee Website.
Description:The Children's and Youth Action Committee website is updated on a regular basis with news and
information of relevance to parents, service providers, children and youth. The website includes links to other relevant
organizations, committee newsletters, news and information, and provides an opportunity for public feedback. In addition,
the website will be enhanced to make it more interactive and to add more links to other relevant sites.
Initiative:Maintenance of the Children and Youth Action Committee newsletter.
Description:Provides news and information about the Children and Youth Action Committee, and relevant policy and
funding initiatives from various levels of government.
Time line:March 1999.
Description:Provides an annual update on the activities of the Children and Youth Action Committee and on the
implementation status of the children's and youth civic strategy.
(3)Promoting Intersectoral Service Co-ordination and Service Planning:
Initiative:Best Practices Award.
Time line:Fall 1999.
Description:The Best Practices Award honours an organization, agency or program which has shown innovation in
serving children in its community. In 1998, the $5,000.00 award was shared between Earlscourt Girls Connection, a
program for girls under 12 who are aggressive or delinquent and are at high risk of early school dropout, and College
Montrose Children's Place, a family resource centre which provides a wide variety of services to families with children
under six. More than 80 programs were nominated for the award.
Initiative:Services to Children and Families Month
Time line:May 1999
Description:Services to Children and Families Month celebrates excellence in service co-ordination and integration by
recognizing specific service providers at a reception hosted by the Mayor and the Children's Advocate.
Initiative:Developing Millennial Initiatives.
Time line:Launch in fall of 1999.
Description:Millennial initiatives on children and youth will be developed in partnership with the City, community-based
organizations, private foundations and the Federal Government. Initiatives will include components of the Civic
Commission model, enhance intersectoral coordination and service planning and will develop pilot projects which
demonstrate a best practices approach to the delivery of services to children and youth.
Initiative:Participating in Intersectoral Planning Initiatives.
Description:In recognition that intersectoral co-ordination and planning is one of the key mandates of the Children and
Youth Action Committee, it is anticipated that the Children and Youth Action Committee will participate in planning
initiatives undertaken by other organizations working in related areas.
Time line:Established in November 1998 with an ongoing mandate.
Description:The Youth Cabinet includes secondary school students, post secondary school students and youth who work
in community-based organizations. The cabinet reflects the geographic, cultural and ethnic diversity of the City of Toronto
and will ensure that youth issues become part of the City's agenda. Cabinet members will be responsible for portfolios
including: TTC, Planning, Health, Culture, Recreation, and Housing.
Description:To provide opportunities for youth to speak directly with City Councillors, to become informed of City
initiatives and to inform Councillors of youth issues.
Initiative:Development of a Youth Website.
Time line:February 1999.
Description:The youth website will link youth to programs and services, and provide a forum for youth to contribute
stories and commentary.
Initiative:Responding to the Mayor's Initiative on Youth Violence in Schools
Time line:May 1999.
Description:A key recommendation of the Mayor's Initiative on Youth Violence in Schools is that youth be included in
developing solutions to this issue. In particular, the Mayor's report recommends that the Youth Cabinet participate in
bringing together a diverse and representative group of youth from across the City to develop and endorse an action plan.