An independent evaluation of the Child and Youth Counselling (CYC) Initiative has been completed, and a final report published, including recommendations. The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has also released its response to the report’s recommendations.
The GNWT launched an evaluation of the CYC Initiative in September 2022 to determine how effective the program was and how its implementation in all Northwest Territories (NWT) schools and communities was working for students, youth, and families.
The independent third-party contractor, DPRA Canada Inc., found that the CYC Initiative was in large part working for children and youth in the NWT and its final report offered 42 recommendations to improve services.
Many of these recommendations have been addressed by the GNWT’s redesign of the CYC Initiative, announced in October 2023. Although the results of the evaluation were still being finalized, the GNWT felt it was important that changes to the CYC Initiative begin during the 2023-24 school year to respond to concerns raised by Education Bodies and the Northwest Territories Teacher’s Association (NWTTA).
As such, funding was reallocated to Education Bodies and work has begun to develop a model for school-based mental health and wellness services to complement the existing CYC model. While this will result in less clinical counsellors and a decreased capacity to deliver these services within the Health and Social Services system, this will be offset by an increase in prevention and early intervention mental health supports for children and youth in schools. These supports, which include self-help tools, workshops, and class presentations on topics like anger management and dealing with anxiety, aim to promote positive mental health and wellness in students.
As recommended in the report, the GNWT will:
- Update the Memorandum of Understanding between HSS and ECE for child and youth mental health and wellness services;
- Ensure that processes and protocols for information-sharing are clearly outlined and understood by everyone involved;
- Develop updated communications and promotional materials and ensure this information is shared widely with the public;
- Update the monitoring and evaluation plans for child and youth mental health and wellness programs and services to ensure consistent data collection across both the education and health and social services systems.
For more information about how the GNWT is responding to the report’s recommendations, see the GNWT Response. For more about mental health and wellness supports for children, youth and families, visit: https://www.ece.gov.nt.ca/en/cyc-services.
“Addressing the mental health and wellness needs of NWT youth is critical to the health of our territory. This will require us to adjust our collaborative program delivery as needed to meet the needs of NWT youth. Through the evaluation and redesign of the Child and Youth Counselling Initiative, we will build the spectrum of supports available to children, youth, and families by leveraging the strengths of both the education, and health and social services systems.”
- Caitlin Cleveland, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment
“When it comes to addressing youth mental health, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The Child and Youth Counselling Initiative is one part of a broad system of mental health supports available to NWT residents. I look forward to making progress on the report’s recommendations to further support NWT youth with self-esteem, relationships, and academic performance.”
- Lesa Semmler, Minister of Health and Social Services
- The CYC initiative first launched in the 2018-19 school year and rolled out across the territory over several years. CYCs were placed in NWT schools and communities to provide direct mental health and wellness services within the school and community setting, and to facilitate access to mental health supports for school-aged youth and their families.
- The GNWT originally intended to evaluate the CYC initiative in phases after a three-year time-period, based on the implementation of the initial roll-out of the program. However, to address concerns, the GNWT decided that a single, territory-wide evaluation during the 2022-23 school year would help determine if changes were needed sooner.
- Between September 2022 and May 2023, there was extensive engagement on the CYC Initiative, including: 14 focus groups; 116 interviews; six community visits; and input and oversight from a territorial Youth Advisory Committee. Invaluable feedback was received from approximately 250 individuals including more than 100 children, youth, and families and representatives from four Indigenous Governments.
- DPRA’s report on Child and Youth Counselling Initiative
- GNWT Response to DPRA’s recommendations
- Child and Youth Counselling Services
For media requests, please contact:
Manager, Public Affairs and Communications
Department of Education, Culture and Employment
Government of the Northwest Territories
867-767-9352 Ext. 71073
Department of Health and Social Services
Government of the Northwest Territories
(867) 767-9052 ext. 49037