Community Collaboration Helping High-Risk Children

Stop Now And Plan (SNAP®) is an effective evidence-based gender specific model developed at the Child Development Institute (CDI) in Toronto over 30 years ago. Today this Canadian made social innovation is scaling internationally. The model uses trauma-informed principles to teach elementary school-aged children with disruptive behaviour problems, and their parents, how to stop and think before they act and make better choices ‘in the moment’. The focus of SNAP is to increase emotion regulation, self-control and effective problem solving while improving parent management strategies and child-parent-teacher relationships.

SNAP is now in a major expansion phase to implement SNAP in communities across Canada through a venture philanthropy model supported by the LEAP/Pecaut Centre for Social Impact. We are partnering with government, corporations, foundations, donors and communities to create measurable social impact to persistent social problems. This five-year National Expansion project will save society nearly $3 billion by deterring high-risk children from engaging in anti-social behaviour and juvenile justice/criminal activity.

One of the ways we are working to ensure communities are involved in addressing children and families’ emotional and behavioural social issues, is the SNAP Community Implementation Plan. This plan is designed to have community partners (police, child welfare, mental health and community-based organizations) and schools working together to ensure that all children and families are able to access SNAP services, when and where needed (e.g., intense clinical services, universal school programming). An example of this work is in a community in eastern Ontario where the local police and schools identified a gap in services for middle years children (6-11) and their families and as such was seen as a priority need.  Following interest from this community, the SNAP team at CDI worked with community stakeholders interested in finding a way to offer SNAP services to children and families in their region. Together, a local community team was created consisting of representation from the local hospitals, educators and police services. Shortly after, a SNAP licensing agreement was signed with local community partners whose teams began delivering SNAP in March 2017 followed by SNAP services being delivered in French in October 2017.

This Eastern Ontario Region is an excellent example of a community stakeholder collaboration approach that resulted in addressing an identified mental health gap for children with disruptive behaviour issues by ensuring SNAP services were available to all children and families. Each community member has had a direct role in supporting the launch of SNAP in their region. This is an excellent example of how stakeholders can partner to ensure the best interests of its more vulnerable community members are being met. Here is an example of a typical SNAP child. As an eight year old boy, J.B. struggled in school. He had serious temper tantrums in class which led to multiple school suspensions. He became less and less able to control his anger and perform well in school. He began going down a disruptive path and engaged with kids who were getting into trouble. His family was concerned and really scared for his well-being and worried he would  get hurt. J.B. said “I knew I had two options, keep being a bully, fighting and probably end up in jail, or find a new way of life.” After completing the 13-week SNAP Boys Group (and his parent the SNAP Parent Group) and additional SNAP services such as school support, individual mentoring and family counselling, J.B. has made significant strides. He is now excelling in school and serves on the student council. “SNAP helped me learn how to control my anger and got me on the path I’m on today.” In the end it is the children and their families who are benefitting from collaborative and innovative approaches to addressing social issues.

Consultation has concluded