Ontario government, city of Ottawa announce collaboration on SNAP program

Lisa MacLeod, Ontario's Minister of Children, Community and Social Services speaks with the media in Ottawa, Monday August 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Minister Lisa MacLeod, Mayor Jim Watson and Police Chief Charles Bordeleau announced Tuesday a collaboration to fund a program to help at-risk youth and their families in Ottawa.

According to the province, the program, dubbed SNAP for “Stop Now and Plan,” aims to help what the provincial government called marginalized children and their families in Ottawa.

According to the Ontario government, SNAP helps children between the ages of six and 12 learn how to manage their emotions, think before acting, and make good choices in the moment.

“Ontario’s diversity is one of our greatest strengths, but we know that marginalized children, youth and families in Ontario face barriers,” MacLeod said. “We want to work with our partners to provide programs that strengthen communities, create safe neighbourhoods and set all of Ontario’s youth up for success in school and employment.”

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Two organizations in Ottawa will be implementing SNAP in the community, the Britannia Woods Community House and the Somali Centre for Family Services.

According to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services both organizations will collaborate with the ministry to deliver the SNAP program to families in Ottawa.

“For more than 40 years, we have been supporting the unique needs of our community and families in Ottawa,” said Mohamed Sofa, executive director of the Britannia Woods Community House. “We are thrilled to collaborate with our partners in government to deliver the SNAP program, while also offering supports to their families and caregivers.”

According to the MacLeod, the province will provide $500,000 to these centres to implement SNAP into their communities.

According to the Child Development Institute, which is responsible for developing SNAP, 14 per cent of Canadian children experience mental health issues with conduct problems being the most referred mental health issue among children under the age of 12.

According to the institute, typical conduct disorders/disruptive behaviour problems can include:

  • Difficult family relationships
  • Physically aggressive behaviour
  • Angry outbursts
  • Verbally aggressive or defiant behaviour
  • Lack of self-control and problem-solving skills
  • Difficulty making and maintaining healthy relationships
  • Stealing
  • Bullying
  • Vandalism

Left untreated, conduct disorders can have long-term, significant impacts on the child, their family and society,” says the institute on their website. “Poor lifespan outcomes include persistent criminality (approximately 60 per cent of incarcerated males have a history of conduct disorders), poor vocational and social functioning, mental illness, increased rates of hospitalization, family and parenting dysfunction, and substance abuse.”

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According to the institute, 68 per cent of children who participate in the program will not have a criminal record by the age of 19.

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