Meeting a community’s need for children’s services

By: Gerry Rucchin
December 7, 2018

The Child and Youth Development Clinic’s (CYDC) first-year success highlights the strong demand in London for children and youth services.

The clinic served 220 families through its individual and group services.

The need hasn’t surprised the CYDC Director, Professor Colin King. From his experience as a psychologist in the city and with the Thames Valley District School Board, he knows the clinic is filling an important gap in services for children and youth.

“It’s been a busy year but we’re a small and mighty group,” said King. “We’ve had the support and autonomy to create those services to meet those needs.”

CYDC relies on students

The clinic, which opened in October 2017, provides consultation, assessment, and intervention services from graduate student clinicians in psychology, speech and language, and social work to children and youth from three to 18 years of age. Graduate students in School and Applied Child Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Applied Behavior Analysis, and Speech and Language Pathology programs at Western can participate at the clinic.

“Our student clinicians are ambassadors for the clinic and I’ve been impressed by the responsibility and the dedication they have working with these families and youth,” said King.

King has also been pleased the community has embraced the clinic. CYDC has joined forces with schools, school boards and community organizations.

“Our goal has been to partner in positive ways and making sure the communication and feedback is reciprocal between us and our community partners,” said King. “We’ve all recognized that it truly takes a village to help children.”

Helping families feel safe and supported when clinicians work with them has also been important.

“We wanted to make sure this was a place where families could tell their story. We acknowledge parents are the experts of their experience and their child. We want to partner with them to help them get some of the outcomes they’re looking for,” said King.

Year two – Increasing relationships with the community

Starting their second year of operation, King said they’re creating strategic partnerships with community organizations.

Also, plans are underway to establish an advisory committee that will be made up of community members, professionals, parents and caregivers. This committee will ensure CYDC is meeting families’ needs regarding the work the clinic provides as well as how they respond to family feedback.

The clinic is also exploring options on building its interdisciplinary team by discussing how the training programs of Developmental Pediatrics and Occupational Therapy might fit with the clinic.

“I feel as a society we can make the most impact when everyone works together instead of working separately.”