New approach to help at-risk kids expanding across province

A strategy to help youth with mental health and behavioural issues is expanding in New Brunswick.

Integrated Service Delivery combines forces of education, health, social development and public safety

A strategy to speed up assistance for youth with mental health and behavioural issues is expanding in New Brunswick.

The Integrated Service Delivery (ISD) model combines the forces of early childhood education, health, social development and public safety.

The goal is for at-risk children and youth to access the services they need sooner by using one entry point.

"It avoids having families and children having to tell their story multiple times," said ISD director Bob Eckstein.

"They know where to go for services and they have teams working with their child and themselves along their continuum to try and address their issues."

For the past five years the strategy has been tested in Charlotte County and on the Acadian Peninsula. It's expected to roll out in Saint John in the fall, and all over the province by 2018.

Better coordination

The project evolved out of the Ashley Smith and Connecting the Dots reports, published by former child and youth advocate Bernard Richard.

The reports identified a strong need for better coordination among departments to increase support to children and youth with multiple needs.

"We share information much earlier to develop common plans with the family and child, with whoever needs to be there and provide the necessary information to work with that child … trying to be more preventative," Eckstein said.

"This is to be more proactive than reactive. And to put all the services within the community, and family and school context, so we do everything we can so the child doesn't have to leave the community for services."

Team members working under this model include child psychologists, social workers, nurses, guidance counselors, resource and methods teachers, school intervention workers "[who] follow the natural pathway of a child," Eckstein said.

Services are available in schools and the community, and are provided in places that are comfortable for the child.

Eckstein says the first point of contact for the program is through the province's Addictions and Mental Health Services.

"They can also go through the schools, their local school in order to ensure access, or doctors would know, police officers would know, so there's multiple points of entry for access to these services," he said.

"That's what's exciting about this, it really does break down the silos. We're really trying to work from one file now."


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