The program was launched in July 2018 and has made a big impact is just under a year.
The program is designed to get ahold of at-risk youth to deal with issues that the police doesn’t need to handle. Coordinator Sarah Phoenix gives the example of aggressive behaviour or running away from home. All Bancroft OPP officers are trained to make referrals. After a referral is made, Phoenix gets involved and speaks with the youth and family to figure out what the best plan of action is. “We’re always trying to help those kids that may have behavioural issues,” Bancroft OPP Constable Philippe Regamey says of the work the local OPP do with the program. “We don’t want (the youth) to have to go to court and deal with those charges.”
24 youth and their families have been referred to the program. Phoenix says those youth accounted for 161 calls for service by the Bancroft OPP, but since being referred, they account for only 11 calls. “It’s been proven and shown that it’s also reduced calls for service from police and these youth and families are no longer in need of emergency services,” Phoenix says. She adds that four youths have had their referral cases closed.
The average age of the youth involved is 13 to 14 years old, with three youth involved under the age of eight. “So many calls have been diverted from the police to (Sarah Phoenix) where she’s been able to help them, support them, get the assistance they need so they don’t have to call the police,” Bancroft OPP Constable Philippe Regamey says.
“Children have been able to engage in better outcomes at school,” Phoenix says. “They’ve also been able to engage in programs that address their emotional and mental health needs.” She says being able to support the youth and their families has been a rewards experience since the program launched.
The program has funding from Ministry of Community Correctional Services that will keep them going until March 2020. “Our goal now is to keep doing the great work we’re doing and seek out funding to ensure this program keeps going past March 2020,” Phoenix says. Regamey says the OPP will always look to help at-risk youth, but without the intersections program, it would make referrals harder.