City of Toronto announces Family Well-Being Plan

Mayor John Tory announced the City of Toronto’s Family Well-Being Plan developed in partnership with community agencies and social service providers, to highlight the supports available to those who may be experiencing family violence during the pandemic.

Inspired by the provincial #HereToHelpON social media campaign, the City has partnered with the following agencies to develop and implement #HereToHelpTO to connect residents to the various social service agencies, programs and supports that are still available to children, youth and families experiencing violence, abuse or neglect during this time.

Intimate Partner & Domestic Violence

Child Abuse

By connecting with one of the service providers, residents can receive critical support, such as counselling, emotional assistance, safety planning, information and referrals free of charge.

As the pandemic persists, many Torontonians continue to experience ongoing challenges and difficulty navigating supports. While these times may be isolating, no child, youth or family in the city should feel alone. To access information, resources and tips, please visit http://www.toronto.ca/HereToHelpTO.

Young people, families in need of help, or a community member with a concern about the safety or well-being of a child or youth under 18, should contact their local community services agency, child welfare or Indigenous child and family well-being agency. In all cases, if residents or someone they know is in immediate danger, they should call 911.

Quotes:

“Dealing with the pandemic has and continues to be challenging for residents across this city. People are spending more time at home than ever and for some, home can be an unsafe place to be. Our Family Well-Being Plan will help support families and children who are experiencing violence, abuse or neglect at home during the pandemic. We want to do everything possible to protect our residents who need help right now.”

– Mayor John Tory

“The pandemic has created a perfect storm for intimate partner violence which has led to a steady increase in calls to the Assaulted Women’s Helpline from women across the province.  Our crisis line counsellors have had to adapt to working quickly to understand the severity of the women’s situation and connect to her to the appropriate services.  This has been extremely challenging with many services being restricted and others at capacity but throughout AWHL has continued to maintain 24/7 crisis line counselling.  The Assaulted Women’s Helpline is pleased to be part of the City of Toronto’s initiative to ensure that women experiencing intimate partner violence know how and where to access necessary resources for support.”

– Sheila Phillips, Chair Assaulted Women’s Helpline Board of Directors

“We are concerned that there are children living in homes that may not be safe and during this time of isolation, they may not have protective adults such as teachers or child care providers who are watching out for them or who they can talk to. I would encourage parents and caregivers to reach out for help if they are having trouble coping. There are agencies that can help. Boost CYAC continues to work together daily with our partner agencies to respond to and investigate reports of suspected child abuse and offer mental health support to children and families as needed.”

– Karyn Kennedy, President & C.E.O., Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre (Boost CYAC)

“We are very encouraged by the level of collaboration that’s taken place between member agencies and the City of Toronto to ensure the Indigenous community has access to culturally-grounded services and supports throughout COVID-19. As an essential services provider, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto (NCFST) remains open, providing critical mental health supports and land-based programming for Indigenous children and families in Toronto parks in partnership with the City. We know the Indigenous community is disproportionately impacted by this pandemic, and we must be vigilant in our commitment to ensure supports for vulnerable children, youth and families in our city. NCFST and other members of the Toronto Aboriginal Services Council (TASSC) remain open, accessible, and committed to help.”

– Jeffrey Schiffer, Executive Director, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto

“At the heart of what we do is the Catholic children, youth, families and foster families with whom we collaborate and provide professional, culturally responsive, child-centred and family focused services and supports. We are in awe of their resilience to rise to challenges they have faced like increased financial, housing, employment, child care and mental health stressors during this pandemic. It hasn’t been easy adjusting to our “new normal” and our service recipients have been open and accepting of us supporting them in different ways. We will continue to work together, ensuring they are at the centre of our decision-making.”

– Mark Kartusch, Executive Director, Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto

“As COVID-19 continues to bring change to the lives of families across our city, CAS of Toronto’s commitment to ensuring the health and well-being of children and youth and their caregivers remains unwavering. We know that now more than ever families, particularly those in vulnerable and marginalized communities, are facing compounded pressures related to housing challenges, job loss, child care availability and mental health, and our agency is available 24/7 to help. During these trying times, we want caregivers to know that they are not alone, and that CAS of Toronto, alongside other child welfare and Indigenous child and family well-being agencies, are here to connect them with the culturally-relevant resources, services and supports they need to help keep their children safe.”

– Paul Rosebush, CEO of Children’s Aid Society of Toronto