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B3-1: Hurry up and Wait! Engaging Caregivers Early to Enhance Outcomes

A youth’s courageous journey to treatment can be greatly impacted by their caregiver(s). Many caregivers encounter roadblocks when trying to navigate treatment access for their youth, one of the greatest of which is waiting. In our climate of need far exceeding capacity, waitlists are unavoidable for many organizations. Caregivers who are waiting for help for their child are often exhausted, hopeless, managing a climate of crisis within the home, and depleted of personal resources. Indeed, getting through a treatment wait period can feel insurmountable. Pine River Institute (PRI) works with caregivers before their child enters treatment to offer support. Our waitlist support program helps caregivers build relationships, attune to the child and set healthy limits. This fosters caregiver ownership in the health of the family, and orient their child toward independence and maturation. In this presentation, we will share our enhanced intake processes and our caregiver waitlist support program.


Amanda Ragazzon is the Director of Community Outreach and Admissions at Pine River Institute.  Amanda graduated as a Community Outreach and Development Worker; which led her through varying endeavours in Public Safety and Security, Health Care, non-profit and private programs. Landing at Pine River Institute over a decade ago, she was impressed by the unwavering support for new beginnings offered to courageous youth and families. As a parent who has experienced adoption and supports children who have special needs, she firmly believes that all individuals deserve opportunities and dignity on their personal journey. As a fierce advocate for youth and their families, she has created paths for treatment through building successful networks.

Jenn Bingley is the Research Manager at Pine River Institute. Jenn holds an M.A. in Applied Psychology from Laurentian University. In 2014 she joined PRI, drawn to the focus on family-centered programming. As a mother of three, she firmly believes that families are stronger when they grow together. Jenn’s passion lies in engaging families, fostering evidence-informed practices, and building the bridge between research and practice. When she’s not in the office, you will find Jenn with her family, exploring the community and the great outdoors.



B3-2: Intensive Treatment Services Outreach Team Pilot Project

Over the last 5 years, the waitlist for ITS Day Treatment in Windsor-Essex has been one of the longest in Ontario, with some children and youth waiting up to 588 days. Waiting for service can have profoundly negative impacts on families and increase the risk of mental health crisis. In 2019, The Regional Children’s Centre (RCC) developed a pilot program called ‘ITS Outreach’ which targeted children and their families on the waitlist for ITS Day Treatment to alleviate high wait times. This 12-week, interprofessional, and mobile community-based program offered therapeutic and educational support to families in their own home to reduce the child’s emotional and behavioural symptoms, improve parental competence, increase treatment motivation, and better prepare families for the intensity and commitment required for ITS Day Treatment.

In total, 24 families participated in the program and received, on average, 56 visits from the team (19.2 visits, on average, were individual support for the child or youth). The average age of the child was 10 years and 88% identified as male. By the end of the program, both youth and parents significantly improved their ability to recognize the child’s symptoms and were also significantly more engaged and motivated to continue treatment. Parents also significantly improved their overall self-efficacy to support their child or youth’s mental health challenges. Overall, after receiving ITS Outreach, 83% of families were diverted from ITS Day Treatment admission, as they no longer required intensive services, and were referred instead to lower intensity options at RCC.


Kyle Williamson, BA, MSW, RSW, has been working in the child and youth sector for the past 10 years. Kyle’s work originated in Settlement Services for new youth to Canada followed by working in the Child Welfare System and ultimately being appointed to the Operations Manager for Intensive Treatment Services at Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare’s Regional Children’s Centre. Kyle’s focus has been on community engagement and partnership, reducing barriers to services and promoting intensive clinical and therapeutic needs for our region’s highest need clients and families.

Dr. Jennifer Voth-Jenn has been the Manager of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare’s Research and Project Management Department for the past 5 years. Prior to this role, Jenn was a Statistical Analyst and Research Consultant at the University Health Network in Toronto collaborating with multidisciplinary research teams. Using her background in statistical modeling, research design and methodology, Jenn has assisted in guiding research and quality improvement projects from conception through to reporting and dissemination by contributing statistical and methodological consultation, services, and expertise. She holds a Master’s and PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Windsor and is actively involved in publishing research in the areas of rehabilitation sciences, health services, and system performance.



B3-3: Can a Waitlist be an Opportunity?

Faced with growing waitlists, the Play Therapy team at York Hills saw an opportunity to use wait times to engage families in self directed learning modules designed support them to make more effective use of therapy when they were offered services. This workshop will demonstrate how this team chose to embrace and leverage processes of client engagement, adult learning and parent child relationships to develop the Play Therapy Prep Program. The objective was to increase parent awareness, and literacy that is foundational to the therapeutic process. In addition, the program offered parents an opportunity to reflect on their parenting practices, beliefs, the science of parenting and to try interacting with their family in new ways.

The team hoped that the prep program would position families to increase their readiness, commitment and participation in therapy. The play therapy prep program has given families increased access to meaningful mental health supports, increased access to the most current best practices bringing brain science to parenting and parent child interactions, and has given families an opportunity to practice small changes that have a ripple effect within their families. It has also made families aware how commitment and family engagement/participation will help them make the changes to feel on track.


Janet MacQuarrie, MEd, RP, Clinical Member OSRP: Janet is an experienced Clinical Manager with demonstrated excellence working in Children’s Mental Health. Janet’s effective leadership style is grounded in a belief in others and supporting others in lifelong, passionate and creative learning journies. Janet embraces employee engagement and motivation believing in the power of meaningful connection. This appreciative lens allows individuals to grow into the best they can be in clinical supervision, adult learning, learning organizations and team building. Adult learning, growth and development are foundational to Janet’s leadership style and relationships.

Clinical strengths include Play Therapy, Infant and Early Child Mental Health, narrative therapies, brief therapy, solution focused therapy, EFST and trauma responsive therapy. Janet Brings a strengths-based, positive and appreciative lens to Children’s Mental Health. she is a strong healthcare services professional and leader with a Master of Education – MEd focused in Adult Education from Yorkville University.

Pamela Snelgrove, MA, RP: Pam Snelgrove started her career working with children and families in 2005 where she spent 13 years in child welfare in both front line and management positions. Pam received her graduate degree in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University in 2012, started her private practice in 2014 in Georgina, Ontario and made a full-time shift into mental health as a Child and Family Therapist with York Hills Centre for Children Youth and Families in 2020. Pam has training in play therapy, including directive and non-directive approaches, as well as in Emotion Focused Skills Training, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Adult Attachment and Trauma-Informed approaches. Pam works on the play therapy team and part-time with children, youth and families from the First Nations, Inuit and Metis community on Georgina Island. Pam feels blessed to have the privilege of walking alongside children and families and grateful for the many opportunities to help families on their journey to find emotional healing.

Michelle Song, MMT, RP: Michelle is a registered psychotherapist with a passion for helping children and their families experience connection – within each person, with each other and with other parts of their lives.  Her journey as a clinician began with her graduate training in music therapy at Wilfrid Laurier University and she engages in ongoing professional development in the field of psychotherapy.  She works from a perspective that incorporates trauma, attachment, neurobiology, child development and family systems theories.  Michelle currently works as a Child and Family Therapist in the Play Therapy Department at York Hills Centre for Children, Youth and Families.

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