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RBC donates $1.5 M to help youth who need mental health and addiction services

Author: Kids Come First | Les enfants avant tout

19 August 2021

Ottawa, ON — Today, the RBC Foundation presented $1.5 million to CHEO for the Kids Come First Health Team to improve access to youth mental health care in our community. This donation will support, a new initiative that will help Kids Come First create a single point of entry to Eastern Ontario’s system of care for mental health and addictions. 

The Kids Come First Health Team includes CHEO and 20 other providers of mental health and addiction services for children and youth in the region, as well as families and youth partners. One of its major goals is to create an integrated system that delivers faster, easier and better access to services and enables physicians and community pediatricians to focus on seeing children and youth in a timely manner. does exactly that.

“Kids and teens in our region are waiting too long for mental health and addiction services, and some of that is because it is difficult to know how to access the service right for them,” explained Joanne Lowe, Executive Director of Youth Services Bureau and Vice-president of Mental Health and Addictions at CHEO. “When this happens, children and youth repeatedly visit emergency departments or access services that might not be the right fit. This can lead to poor outcomes. We are so grateful to RBC Royal Bank for helping us improve this situation to get kids and teens the care they need, when they need it.”

The Honorable Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, was delighted to be a part of today’s announcement. “We know how important it is for children, youth and their families to have access to high-quality services when and where they need them. The new initiative led by Kids Come First simplifies finding and accessing mental health and addictions support. Innovative and collaborative solutions like this one are the kind of initiatives that will help us build a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions system. I want to recognize RBC for their generous donation to support this great program.”

“When someone close to you is struggling, especially a child, a young person, it’s heartbreaking. So when we first heard about, we knew we had to help,” said Marjolaine Hudon, Regional President, Ontario North and East, RBC. “When the program launches next spring, it will fill critical gaps. It will ensure youth get the support they need.” This donation is part of RBC Future Launch – RBC’s $500 million commitment over ten years, to help kids get ready for the future.

“ is going to make the mental health journey better for families. It directly responds to what we hear from parents every day – that they need support and guidance and a system built around them, not the other way around. We are so excited to be part of creating a real solution to the challenges they are currently facing,” said Elyse Schipper, Executive Director of PLEO – Parents’ Lifeline, a Kids Come First partner and member of the team. “Our vision is that families facing mental health challenges can flourish, stigma-free, with the support and services they need. The service will be a welcome resource.”

The initiative will create a streamlined, regional, bilingual coordinated access and navigation service for children, youth, families and providers through:

One number to call

One link to click (patient and provider app)

Walk-in clinics

Direct booking and coordinated care planning

Peer and family support services

Kids Come First will ensure that parents, caregivers, family physicians and community pediatricians can all access services through one number to call or one link to click, anytime, anywhere. 

“Our vision is that parents and caregivers no longer need to be system coordinators or case managers and can spend more time with their children and families; and that they have a clear, simple way of getting the right help as quickly as possible,” said Mike Beauchesne, Executive Director of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre and co-lead of the project team.

“With one number to call or one link to click, family physicians and community pediatricians will also be able to spend their time on what matters most – seeing children and youth – not trying to figure out a complex service system,” Beauchesne added. is slated to start up in the spring of 2021. 

Residents of Eastern Ontario can also help to fund the initiative by participating in the RBC Race for Kids 2020 virtual global edition. “RBC has been a tremendous supporter of CHEO for many years including their partnership through the RBC Race for the Kids which has helped to improve access to mental health services for our children and youth,” said Kevin Keohane, President and CEO, CHEO Foundation. “Today’s announcement takes RBC’s commitment to CHEO and the 20 organizations involved in Kids Come First to a new level and will enable improved care throughout the regional youth mental health and addictions system of care. On behalf of the children, youth, families and organizations who will benefit from – I offer our most sincere thanks to RBC.”

More details can be found at at RBC Race for the Kids.

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