The Child and Youth Network is a collaborative of over 170 organizations and individuals working together to increase and improve outcomes for children, youth, and families in London, Ontario. 

How We Work

Goals and Approach

It has been more than a decade since Child and Youth Network (CYN) partners started thinking differently about how they work together to support families in London. Through different perspectives, backgrounds, and interests, partners have changed the way they work together and have demonstrated positive impact on those involved in the initiatives. They have built a strong culture of collaboration over the last decade. Partners know there is more work to do to create population-level change and to achieve the CYN vision for London's children, youth, and families. To achieve this change, the CYN community has made a commitment to the following:

Vision

Everything CYN partners do is guided by our shared vision:

"Happy, healthy children and youth today: caring, creative responsible adults tomorrow."

Principles

CYN partner's shared principles for collective planning include:

  • Building on existing programs and partnerships using strategies that have proven to be effective. 
  • Targeting vulnerable and special population groups.
  • Taking a life-cycle approach to planning for children, youth, and families.
  • Addressing mental health and safety issues within priorities.

Approach

The Child & Youth Network's approach is based on open, partner driven collaboration. This philosophy informs the CYN approach in a number of ways:

Openness: Membership in the CYN is an "open door" where barriers to participation are minimized; any individual or organization interested in working together on the Network's four priorities is welcome to participate. Members' degree of involvement varies from organization to organization and individual to individual. 

Collaborative planning:  Shared planning generates shared commitment. CYN partners work together to develop a common plan of action; the Child and Youth Agendas are collaboratively-generated plans that outline the initiatives CYN partners wish to work on together.

Targeted universalism: This is a principle of using targeted strategies and interventions with specific population groups to reach universal goals and outcomes for the general public. CYN partners recognized that real change starts with addressing barriers and tailoring solutions for at-risk or special population groups, but many of the same principles used in this approach lead to positive changes in larger population outcomes.

Priority structure: The CYN is organized into four priority implementation teams based on the priority areas identified in 2007. CYN partners align themselves with one or more of these priority areas based on their own organization's mandates. While each priority area operates slightly different, generally, working groups are formed to implement specific initiatives identified in the Child and Youth Agenda. The Family-Centred Service System priority is organized into a system-wide governance body and multiple neighbourhood planning teams. 

Consensus decision-making: The CYN uses a consensus model for decision-making wherever possible. All partners agree to plans and strategies via endorsement processes; this includes the Child and Youth Agenda, for which CYN partners are asked to provide a letter of endorsement. Endorsement for new strategies is sought first at the priority level, and then at the CYN level, before they are initiated.

Equity between organizations: Regardless of an organization's size, all CYN partners have an equal stake in collective planning, implementation, and reaching outcomes. The CYN follows the principle of "one organization, one vote" for endorsement requests. 

Community development: Everything CYN partners do, is done with families -- the community development approach engages families, as experts in their own lives, in the decision-making processes that affect them. 

Collective Impact: The CYN has adopted the Collective Impact approach as a tool to understand and refine how we approach collaborative work. The five conditions of Collective Impact are: 

  • Common Agenda
  • Shared Measurement
  • Mutually Reinforcing Activities
  • Continuous Communication
  • Backbone Support

Priorities and Outcomes

While the CYN is guided by one vision, the four priorities are the pathways to create change. Each priority has a specific vision, goals, and outcomes they aim to achieve. Each of these were developed keeping "happy, healthy children and youth today; caring, creative responsible adults tomorrow" top of mind. 

ENDING POVERTY - To support and empower children, youth, and families to break the cycle of poverty.

MAKING LITERACY A WAY OF LIFE - To ensure children, youth, and families in London develop strong literacy skills and comptencies needed to fully participate, engage, and thrive throughout their lives. 

HEALTHY EATING AND HEALTHY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY - To create environments, neighbourhoods, and opportunities that promote and support daily physical activity and healthy eating for all children, youth, and families in London.

FAMILY-CENTRED SERVICE SYSTEM - To make it easier for London's children, youth, and families to participate fully in their community and to find and receive the services they need. 

Please visit each priority's page for outcomes. 

Roles

While it is necessary to recognize that collective effort moves the yardstick on large-scale change, we must also focus on the role that each individual organization plays in creating change.

CYN Partners: The individuals and organizations that implement the collaborative plans set out in the Child and Youth Agenda, supported by the "backbone."  The CYN approach provides a mechanism for collective work; it is through partners' efforts that change happens. Partners work together to turn the plan into action, communicating continuously with each other to create ongoing alignment of effort within initiatives and across priorities.

Community Chairs: Each priority area has a Community Chair. Community Chairs are partners who provide community leadership to each priority area, which includes: 

  • Providing strategic guidance for the direction of priority plans. 
  • Facilitating planning and decision-making processes.
  • Serving as the "public face" to build goodwill and engage partners in the community.

Backbone: The backbone coordinates and supports the efforts of CYN partners to implement the Child and Youth Agenda through their collective efforts. The City of London, in collaboration with community partners, fills the backbone function. The City of London also provides funding to support the Network's infrastructure and activities. City of London staff support the efforts of CYN partners through a variety of means, including, but not limited to:

  • Creating connections and building relationships between community partners.
  • Working with Community Chairs to facilitate planning and decision-making processes.
  • Coordinating the development of workplans based on partner contributions.
  • Supporting and monitoring implementation of priority workplans.
  • Coordinating the design and implementation of evaluation and assessment practices

Network Strategies

Network strategies guide the direction and approach of all CYN partners. They are not connected to any single initiative, outcome, or priority area; they are designed to build the strength of the entire Network by creating the conditions in which our priority plans can be implemented most effectively. They are not concrete work plans, but directions the CYN uses to enhance and improve other areas of work.

Shared Measurement and Evaluation 

The CYN recognizes the potential of shared measurement to align efforts and create impact across organizations. Partners also recognize its complexity. Building a robust shared measurement system and the associated evaluation framework and methodology takes time. The CYN's collective work occurs in a complex environment with many variables. The CYN's outcome framework looKs at two important areas:

  1. What we want to influence - those outcomes we seek to impact directly through our plan.
  2. What we want to track - those outcomes that are outside our scope of influence, but are still important to monitor as ways to understand how our community is doing.

The outcomes describe what the CYN is trying to change through work in our four priority areas, and where partners will look to see that change has happened. The shared outcome framework identifies existing, available indicators that provide valuable insight into local population trends over time. Potential contribution indicators are outlined in the table below. 

 

Shared Measurement Outcomes

 

Development of a fully-realized shared measurement system including common data collection, measurement, and reporting across the network and community is well underway. To learn more about the CYN's shared measurement and evaluation system, please contact the Child and Youth Network.  

Evidence-Informed Practices

To reach the full potential of the work, CYN partners need to use the best available research and data to make smart, evidence-informed decisions to create change wherever possible. At the network level, CYN partners leverage the growing body of research related to Collective Impact and other large scale, structured approaches to collective change. At the priority level, partners continue to grow knowledge and access research related to the priority areas and initiatives as needed to develop informed approaches to implement strategies and to help guide actions. 

Capacity Building

CYN partners are working together in new ways to impact complex challenges in our community. These new ways of working together require new knowledge and skills; it is imperative that CYN partners continue to develop their capacity to be able to work differently and implement change effectively. 

As part of the CYN's core capacity building strategy, partners will continue to promote opportunities and grow system-wide capacity to enhance our community development approach. Everything the CYN does, is done for families -- the community development approach engages families, as experts in their own lives, in the decision-making processes that affect them. 

Youth Framework

Built on research and direct engagement with hundreds of young Londoners, the CYN Youth Framework serves as a guide for decision-making and planning. It provides a menu of outcomes and indicators that can be referenced in the design, implementation, and evaluation of activities, programs, and services that help young people thrive. 

The CYN's goal is that every youth-serving organization in London is actively using the framework to increase the impact of their work. Existing partners using the tool are engaged as champions to promote using the framework to others. New partners continue to be trained on the use and value of the framework, making refinements as needed. Finally, to keep the content relevant and impactful, updates and refinements to the framework and associated online tools are updated as needed.

 To access the CYN Youth Framework, click here.

Mental Health and Safety

Mental health and safety are lenses the CYN has applied to its work in the past. This means that rather than being represented by discrete priority areas, mental health and safety are embedded in the work of the existing priorities. CYN partners continue to be committed to an enhanced focus on how mental health and safety is addressed within each of the priority areas.

Capturing Emergent Opportunities

The priority plans in the Child and Youth Agenda outline how we are working together. CYN partners work in a complex and dynamic environment, and it is important that priority plans leave space for opportunities that emerge over time. When opportunities arise, CYN partners make collective decisions on the inclusion of additional strategies; these actions are accounted for in the CYN's annual progress report. At all times, these decisions are guided by London families' needs and the desire to create sustainable, large scale, positive impact. 

 

Priority Plans

Priority plans are the CYN's collective roadmaps for creating change. They are organized by the priority areas of Ending Poverty, Making Literacy a Way of Life, Healthy Eating and Healthy Physical Activity, and Creating a Family-Centred Service System. These plans were developed with the philosophy of "deepening impact" through collaboration, and they are reviewed and updated annually based on the progress and impact the initiatives have on London families. 

For Priority Plans click here. For annual Action Steps, click here.

CYN General Partners Meetings

February 13, 2020 -CANCELLED 
9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Civic Gardens Complex

April 16, 2020
9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Civic Gardens Complex

June 11, 2020
9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Civic Gardens Complex

October 8, 2020
9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Civic Gardens Complex