Research in Education


Our Kids Network

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JACKIE OXLEY: The purpose of the partnership is to bring together all the major organizations in Halton region that are dedicated to promoting the healthy growth and development of children and youth in our county.

MARYBETH JONZ: So to universally provide services for children but also to ensure the partners are working together, no duplication of service and providing services that meet the needs of that specific community.

NARRATION: The Our Kids Network is a multi-sectoral, multidisciplinary, non-profit collaborative working together to ensure that in Halton “all children thrive”. The Our Kids Network model of integrated service delivery is an initiative rooted in rich local data on child and community need as well as evidence-based practice regarding child and youth development.

Regional partners, who developed an integrated service protocol, include:

Halton Catholic District School Board
ROCK Reach Out Centre for Kids
Halton Children's Aid Society
Halton District School Board
Halton Region, Departments of Health and Social & Community Services
Halton Regional Police Services
Transitions for Youth

JACKIE: We've had a long history amongst the seven large regional partners of working together and knowing and understanding how each other's organizations and policies and mandates really affect moving forward. I think probably one of the key challenges for all of us in the early days was really understanding the nature of our mandates and where the challenges were, where the barriers were.

SHELLEY LOTHIAN: Many of our financial policies actually don't support service integration so it's very difficult for partners to actually share their resources across different sectors. So how we've overcome some of that is we've managed to put together a more formal agreement about how we're going to work together. And that allows us to share some of the resources that are really critical for moving us forward.

RICK MACDONALD: The partners have dedicated themselves to the Our Kids Network and you have to do that because you have to leave your ego at the door in some respects and I mean by that, leave your territorial boundaries at the door and look more at the communal good for all of Halton.

NARRATION: The Network has been a front-runner in Ontario for its development of community surveys and knowledge transfer tools and for promoting a model of service integration. Its work in these areas has resulted in significant sharing and publication of indicator data. A Vision for Children in Halton: Report Card contains data on 40 indicators of child well-being, such as the percentage of infants at risk and school readiness at age 5.
Neighbourhood profile reports were also developed to show levels of risk among children and youth in relation to community resources.

MARYBETH: We all share data. And we do that because we have a research protocol. And that's, for in my opinion it's been phenomenal to help us move forward.

JACKIE: I think probably the key thing from a research and evaluation point of view is it provides us with evidence to inform our decision-making.

RICK: What we've learned is to actually to be evidence based and to examine our data, and it does focus our direction and our resources to areas where it will best be utilized.

NARRATION: The network has created neighbourhood Hubs (located in schools) that support children, youth and parents living in Halton.

JACKIE: We've got three hubs right now. We've one in Aldershot, one in West Milton and one in Acton and having a hub in a school setting allows so many of the programs that come to the hub from various agencies within the community, then to move into the school and the school programs and services to move in and support the hubs. It's very common for teachers, for example in this hub, when they have a concern about a child, whether it be the child needs clothing or there's the family needs food, or the family needs medical support, or eyeglasses, for the teachers just to come down here to the hub and to find out what's available.

NARRATION: The Our Kids Network's accomplishments are significant:
a protocol partnership agreement;
Halton Charter of Rights for Children and Youth,
Collaborative development of three major survey tools:
Development and distribution of A vision for Children in Halton; and
Training for 200 community partners on how to use indicators to improve results

The network was presented with 2008 International Community Innovation Award for demonstrating positive change in the community and the power of indicators to drive that change.

SHELLEY: Well I think the number one most important lesson that I've learned is that you start where the passion is in the community and the people. And what I've found is that there's lots of passion in the people and so start with the passion of people and then move forward from them and then people seem to follow suit as the success starts to build around that.

RICK: And I would say this is the only situation in many years of trying to get this type of initiative off the ground in Halton where we've had this level of cooperation. It truly is inspirational.

MARYBETH: I think it's pretty easy to understand the benefits of why you should do it in partnership. And the resources you save. Everybody shouldn't be doing the same research over and over again on the same children, the same families. We do it once, we share it and it serves everybody's purposes to the best advantage.

JACKIE: This partnership works because we care, we have a common focus on developing healthy families, healthy neighbourhoods and healthy schools. No one owns any one piece. It's the coming together and the skills and talents of all members of the network with one common focus, a healthy Halton.