In 2015, the Board of Directors undertook a planning exercise that included broad stakeholder engagement and led to the development of Strategic Directions and goals for 2015–2019. It is an ambitious plan, aimed at improving our client service excellence and financial sustainability, and enhancing our presence, organizational health and resiliency.
We are proud to share some of our achievements on this front since 2015.
Enhance Capacity for Service Excellence:
- To increase accessibility, we expanded the services we deliver at community locations. We now deliver services from all departments at the Dorset Park Hub, and a new location set to open this year at 2206 Eglinton Avenue East will provide services by multiple disciplines and programs.
- We introduced a new walk-in service in children’s mental health to give families shorter wait times to access brief services.
- We expanded our evidence-based program offerings (e.g., SNAP for School, Caring Dads, Coping Power, Triple P parenting seminar series and Stepping Stones, Facing your Fears, Partners in Parenting Education).
- A consultancy laid the foundation for a new structure and robust framework to strengthen our practices in evaluation and quality.
- We started a management training initiative that includes online management training through Harvard University as well as training on the duty to accommodate; equity and inclusion.
- Working with partner organizations, we’ve been providing support activities to Syrian refugee families and children.
- We partnered with the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health and Parents for Children’s Mental Health to provide training and consultation to ensure children, youth and parent voices are included at every stage of our work. We have also been active in the Toronto Lead Agency initiatives to promote family engagement across the city.
- We are actively working with our partners in autism to implement the new Ontario Autism Program, which will increase access to, and flexibility of, services.
Enhance the Presence of Aisling Discoveries:
- System transformation efforts have been occurring across our services and we continued to work with lead agencies and partners to create a system that is focused on increasing accessibility; ensuring effectiveness and efficiency; identifying and addressing system gaps.
- To raise awareness about the challenges faced in the children’s services sector, we have participated in meetings with cabinet ministers and MPPs to highlight the underfunding of children’s mental health. We also attended CMHO advocacy day at Queen’s Park.
- With input from clients, staff, management and community partners, we analyzed internal and external communications. We’re now working with the support of Co-Effect Creative to implement the identified priorities for improvement, including hiring a communications manager, reviewing branding and redesigning our website and materials.
- Staff participated in many community and sector events to raise awareness of our services and provide education on a wide range of topics.
Strengthen Financial Sustainability:
- We received new funding to expand Autism Services, and since 2015 have hired 35 new staff as part of the Ontario Autism Program.
- Additional funding we received from the City of Toronto allowed us to add five new staff to the Child Care Consultation Program as part of Every Child Belongs.
- We were one of 62 agencies awarded Anchor Agency status by United Way Greater Toronto. This grants us a five-year funding commitment for vital community programs, including our kindergarten-readiness programs in at-risk communities and work with families in shelters.
- The board decided to invest modestly in fundraising, concentrating on building relationships with existing donors, clients and other stakeholders.
Promote Organizational Health and Resiliency:
- We have undertaken a diversity and inclusion initiative that included an assessment of our organization compared to best practices as well as training for all management and staff. More work is planned to ensure an inclusive service and work environment for clients and staff.
- We introduced a dedicated staff appreciation event, town hall meetings and working groups that include management and staff to bolster opportunities for staff engagement.
- We are digitizing client files to improve administrative efficiency so that more staff time can be dedicated to client service.
- We upgraded our client information system and trained our staff to use new features. We are laying the foundation for the organization to use new types of information to better serve our clients.
- The board started the Strengthening Governance Project aimed at aligning our board model and practices with governance best practices.
- We restructured to strengthen our core administration as the organization grows, and created two new positions: director of evaluation and quality and manager of communications. We also hired a full-time human resources director.