Department of Psychiatry
Hospital  >  Departments  >  Psychiatry  >  Patient care  >  Youth Division  >  Fresh Start  >  Information for clinicians

Information for clinicians

Note: Fresh Start is open for the 2020-2021 academic year with appropriate precautions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While not indicated below, please be aware that there have been a number of changes to how Fresh Start is structured, including modification of our schedule to permit quadmesters, students’ need to wear masks while in class and abide by Sunnybrook infection control procedures, and virtual Intake and Review meetings with the Fresh Start team.
  • Focus: working on mental health-related goals.
  • Credit offered and levels
    1. Credit is unique to Fresh Start;
    2. Requires a minimum of 9 ½ weeks’ attendance and participation to earn credit
    3. No credit recovery possible while at Fresh Start
    4. No mainstream credits offered.
  • Since Fresh Start is a TDSB program and it is only possible to be enrolled in one high school program at a time, students enrolling in Fresh Start will need to be demitted from their current high school program. Please note that this may result in a loss of credits and may preclude students’ ability to return to the high school program they were enrolled in – e.g., if their prior high school is non-semestered.
  • The Fresh Start program has three core expectations of our students:
    1. Daily attendance from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    2. Willingness to assist with making Fresh Start a safe therapeutic environment. This specifically includes but is not limited to:
      • no physical violence,
      • no bullying/cyber bullying,
      • not engaging in self-harm/substance or alcohol use/etc. during program hours, and
      • maintaining program confidentiality;
    3. Actively working on goals related to the mental health issues interfering with their ability to function in a conventional school setting throughout their time at Fresh Start
  • Fresh Start does not have the resources to assist students with daily attendance e.g. by doing home visits, providing phone coaching for parents on how to get their children to attend, etc. Students who come to Fresh Start need to be able to attend daily from their first day of enrolment at Fresh Start.
  • TDSB busing is an option subject to eligibility.
  • Since Fresh Start is a TDSB program, students must reside in Metro Toronto proper i.e. the '416' – not just the Greater Toronto Area.
  • Duration:
    1. Fresh Start is set up in four- week blocks, with a Review Meeting with each student and their parents at the end of each four week block.
    2. Enrolment length is typically 8 to 12 weeks; maximum enrolment length is 12 weeks.
    3. Continued enrolment is contingent on students demonstrating active motivation to participate and work on their mental health-related goals throughout the time at Fresh Start.
    4. Because of ongoing demand for spaces at Fresh Start, students will typically not be kept in the program just to give them the opportunity to complete their credit if they are no longer actively working on mental health-focused goals.
  • Fresh Start is a coed program.
  • Therapeutic groups offered at Fresh Start over the course of the week include creative expression, social skills, DBT skills, health and well-being, and life skills.
  • While enrolled at Fresh Start, it is a program expectation that external therapy and external coursework will be put on hold.
  • Cell phone policy: at Fresh Start, cell phone use is permitted ONLY during lunch hours and breaks.
  • Referrals to Fresh Start:
    • Referrals should come from the patient’s psychiatrist or primary care physician.
    • Referrals should be accompanied by copies of all previous psychiatric assessments, psychoeducational testing, and / or any other reports relevant to the patient’s mental health.
    • Referral forms can be found here.