The Centre Francophone de Toronto (CFT) is a non-profit organization that acts primarily as a gateway to francophones living in, or looking to move to, Toronto. In addition to a legal aid clinic funded by LAO, the CFT has a medical clinic, immigration and newcomer support services, and a children and families program.
Among their youth-oriented services, the CFT launched Espace Jeunesse (Youth Space), which focuses on providing mental health services to francophone children and teens in the Toronto area. I had the opportunity to talk with Kathleen Patterson, who is one of the program’s psychotherapists.
Patterson explained that Espace Jeunesse is geared towards francophone youth aged 7 through 18 who are experiencing difficulties at home or at school, such as low self-confidence, depression, substance abuse, bullying, and violence. The project is a partnership between the CFT and Hincks-Dellcrest, and was developed through funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services in Fall 2012. Most recently, the CFT has also partnered with LAO on this initiative.
There are a total of seven full-time professional staff members on board: two psychotherapists and two community school workers from CFT, and two psychotherapists and one psychologist from Hincks-Dellcrest.
Currently, there are two types of services available:
1. Psychotherapy for youth and families. In most cases, this is a 16-week service, but can be flexible if more sessions are needed. References for this service generally come from the surrounding community, from existing clients, Children’s Aid, and the francophone school board (both Catholic and public).
2. Services offered within the French school system. Espace Jeunesse employs two community school workers who go in to local French schools and help youth diagnosed with mental health issues adjust and cope with any difficulties that may arise.
Although the project is still under construction, over 40 youth and families have benefited from the program so far. The program staff are well on their way of surpassing their goal of 50 participants during the first year!
Want to know more? Visit the CFT website for more information on Espace Jeunesse and other CFT community programs.
For more information on LAO’s mental health services, visit our website.