Crossroads Children’s Mental Health Centre (CCMHC) works with Ottawa children up to the age of 12 and their families. They develop and deliver a wide range of mental health services to help children and families struggling with severe and complex emotional, behavioural, and social challenges. CCMHC employs a diverse team of professionals who deliver treatment to children and their families. There are ongoing efforts to ensure that staff is representative and culturally sensitive of the diversity of the community.
Committing to diversity, inclusion, equity, and anti-racism
CCMHC has been building out training to support the cultural competence of staff and ensuring that the services that are delivered to children and families are inclusive, culturally relevant, and respectful of the diversity of clients in the community. The organization offers specialized training for all employees related to cultural competence and members of the leadership team have participated and successfully completed HIO’s Cross-Cultural Competency Training.
Across the organization, policies have been revitalized to include diversity and inclusion as a key component of operations, from HR to programming and interventions for clients. In response to a heightened awareness of racism in the community and globally, and an understanding of the intergenerational trauma of racism and oppression on young people and families in Ottawa, CCMHC reviewed existing institutional practices and committed to do more to provide support and services that are empathic and inclusive of diverse clients.
The staff-led I-DARE group, which stands for Inclusivity, Diversity, Anti-Racism and Equity, was developed. This group is open to the entire organization, with weekly meetings designed to bring diverse voices to the table, maintain momentum and move issues forward quickly. There is a core group of participants in the I-DARE group who represent direct service staff, as well as members of the leadership team. The I-DARE group has been instrumental in guiding the principles, commitments, and actions of the CCMHC. This includes an anti-racism positioning statement with five specific actions that CCMHC has committed to:
- Focus on reducing all inequities in the provision of mental health services and working within an anti-racism and anti-oppression framework, with explicit recognition of the unique needs of specific populations including, but not limited to, immigrant, refugee, ethnocultural and racialized infants, children, and families, including children who identify as trans and queer;
- Enhance professional partnerships with BIPOC communities in Ottawa;
- Advocate as allies for all those experiencing institutional and structural racism and social inequalities;
- Explore and improve agency policies and procedures to protect against the impact of institutional and systemic racism;
- Provide all CCMHC employees with resources to increase their awareness of racist beliefs, racial bias and oppression; naming and calling out prejudice wherever it is seen.
According to Michael Hone, Executive Director of CCMHC, “the work that is getting done in the I-Dare committee is simply quite amazing. This group of employees is committed to change and will be instrumental in improving CCMHC’s capacity to meet the cultural needs of children and families in the Ottawa area.”
Strategies to recruit diverse applicants
CCMHC has been involved with the Internationally Trained Professionals Program (ITP) at the Pinecrest Queensway Community Health Centre and with the Ottawa Local Immigrant Partnership. Through this partnership, CCMHC has been able to adjust hiring practices to use hiring channels that attract a workforce that is more representative of Ottawa’s diverse community. Learning from HIO’s Cross-Cultural Competency training has supported the HR team to strengthen understanding and awareness of cultural differences and mitigate biases in the recruitment and evaluation process. CCMHC has become more intentional in who is hired, looking not only at merit, but considering how diversity of experience and a more diverse staff can be an asset to the organization.