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Children's Health & Wellness

Empowering Children and Youth: CDI’s 114-year legacy

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Andrew Reddin

CEO, Child Development Institute

For more than 100 years, CDI has helped fill a gap in children’s mental health services with free, accessible programming. 

Anxiety, depression, trauma-related behavioural challenges, and other mental health issues are on the rise — including in very young children under the age of six. “Up to one in five children in Ontario experience challenges in mental health, and concerningly, for the majority of those children, their needs go untreated,” says Andrew Reddin, CEO of the Toronto-based Child Development Institute (CDI), a registered charity that provides free mental health services to at-risk children and youth. “That speaks to the profound shortfall in addressing these needs, which can result in a host of negative impacts on their quality of life and future prospects.” 


The pandemic is among the factors having a major impact on children’s mental health, from its lasting, pernicious impact on community supports to an associated increase in domestic violence. Many children and their families are still reeling from its effects, and adequate, accessible mental health support is proving more important than ever.

There is help available

Some of the most vulnerable children impacted by mental health challenges belong to underserved communities, including those from BIPOC and lower-income families. But there is fully-funded support available. For more than 100 years, CDI has helped fill a crucial gap by supporting children, youth and their families in overcoming mental health challenges in spite of significant societal barriers. CDI’s latest (2023) data showed that 85 per cent of children who complete treatment have demonstrated positive outcomes.

CDI offers robust, evidence-based programming that spans child and youth mental health services (social, emotional, and behavioural counseling), mental health and learning disabilities counseling, and gender-based violence services. It also provides an Early Years program and child care centered on child-initiated play and exploration opportunities.

CDI works with community organizations across Canada and worldwide to implement its Stop Now and Plan (SNAP®) and Mothers in Mind (MIM®) programs; these affiliates offer accessible, evidence-based programming in their communities. “We work to help build the capacity of the field by sharing what we’re learning through our evidence-based programs with other service providers,” says Reddin. 

To learn more about CDI’s services, research, or its 114-year legacy, visit childdevelop.ca.

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