Fresh Start is an intensive Day Treatment Program, offered as a co-operative program by our division of youth psychiatry and the Toronto District School Board. Students who participate
- Have a primary mood, anxiety, or psychotic disorder;
- Are still in recovery, and
- Are eligible for enrolment in a TDSB high school, i.e.,
- Are ages 14-19 and
- Have completed Grade 8 and
- Have not yet graduated high school and
- Live in the ‘416’ (City of Toronto).
Under the care of a six-member interprofessional treatment team (Child & Youth Counselor (CYC), Social Workers, Nurse, TDSB Teacher and a Physician), Fresh Start's mission is to transition students back to school by treating the mental health issues interfering with the students’ ability to function in a regular classroom setting. The program provides a safe, school-like environment where students can be medically monitored while developing critical thinking, independent learning and life skills. The typical length of stay is 8-12 weeks.
- Fresh Start functions as a group program, but each student must come equipped with his/her individual set of goals — the underlying reasons for his/her active participation in the program.
- Fresh Start is a "blended" program: skills acquired in the afternoon therapeutic groups are to be implemented in the morning academic portions of the day and vice versa.
- Since students will be working intensely on skill building throughout their enrolment, there is an opportunity to earn one high school credit. For 2016 -2017, students at Fresh Start will be able to begin work on a Guidance credit.
It is especially important to understand that everyone attends Fresh Start for his/her own reason. Despite the familiar school-like setting, each student's therapeutic programming is individualized. Therefore, no comparisons are to be made between students; each must be able to focus on his/her own recovery.
The focus of Fresh Start is therapeutic recovery, not academic progress:
- Academically, in-class projects based on critical and lateral thinking, literacy, numeracy, and skills and interest inventories are given weekly to the entire group with the expectation that each student uses these project to assess their learning skills, measure goals, track progress, etc.
- Students cannot be enrolled in another school program while attending the Fresh Start program.
- Therapeutically, students must communicate daily with the CYC and weekly with the physician, and actively engage in all therapeutic groups.