Ontario Announcing Wrap-around Supports for Vulnerable Youth in Eastern Ontario

Province seeks to empower students to lift academic achievement and mental health

NEWSJune 7, 2024

BROCKVILLE —The Ontario government is investing $200,000 to provide wrap-around holistic support services for at-risk youth in Grades 6 to 12 in Lanark, Leeds, and Grenville for the 2024-25 school year. The new support services will help improve the educational achievements and personal well-being of at-risk youth while also providing much-needed assistance to their families.

“RNJ Youth Services is doing life-changing work in our community by providing invaluable services to at-risk youth and their families,” said Steve Clark, MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes. “As a strong advocate for the organization, I’m so pleased that our government is making this $200,000 investment because I know the dramatic impact this funding will have. It will give at-risk youth the education and supports they need to realize their potential, putting them on a path toward a future of opportunity.”

The Connections program provides support services administered by the Reverend Norm Johnston Youth Residence. Recognizing the complex challenges faced by at-risk youth, this program seamlessly combines academic, emotional and social support. Through personalized one-on-one services provided in a safe and supportive environment, youth can develop essential life skills, enhance academic performance, practice responsible behaviour and actively engage in the community. Wrap-around support services will be available for students suspended for up to five days, those disengaged from school or not attending, and youth at-risk or involved in the criminal justice system.

Students can access this program independently or be referred by school boards, parents or community agencies. The Connections program offers a comprehensive range of supportive services, including:

  • Assisting in navigating and coordinating services for youth, such as mental health and addiction support.
  • Developing personalized academic achievement plans in partnership with the student’s school.
  • Facilitating communication among parents/caregivers, school staff and community organizations to promote wrap-around support for students.
  • Supporting the transition back to school and providing ongoing assistance to students upon their return to their home school.
  • Providing access to arts and recreation opportunities for holistic development and well-being.

This investment is a part of Ontario’s actions to ensure that every student, regardless of their background or circumstances, has the support they need to succeed.


“We here at RNJ Youth Services are extremely grateful for this investment,” said Rachel Burns, Executive Director. “We work diligently to provide at-risk youth in our community with the opportunity to continue their education, develop skills, obtain knowledge, and gain the resiliency to flourish and reach their goals. This grant is vital to our organizational operations and opens more avenues for us here at RNJ to make a meaningful and long-lasting impact with the youth we serve. We cannot thank MPP Clark enough for his advocacy and support, as well as the Ministry of Education for its generosity and recognition of our work as it will not only help us serve the youth, but the community as a whole.”

“We are pleased to fund community-led and innovative programs to help youth build a brighter future,” said Michael Parsa, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “Giving youth who are involved with the justice system an opportunity to make positive changes and to develop the skills they need to succeed.”


  • Ontario is investing up to $14 million in 2024-25 for career coaching for Grade 9 and 10 students in the publicly funded education system. In partnership with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, this funding will also provide resources and tools to help at-risk youth, individuals in youth justice facilities, and students in other publicly funded educational settings outside of regular classrooms.
  • According to the Charity Intelligence Canada, high school drop-outs are 2.5 times more likely to be unemployed than those who finish high school, receive 85 per cent of government welfare spending, and account for 80 per cent of inmates in federal jails.
  • Ontario’s Urban and Priority High Schools program provides $10 million annually to 46 schools in 12 English and French school boards in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, London, Ottawa, Waterloo, and Windsor. The program supports participants to become engaged in and attend school regularly, improve their literacy and numeracy skills, participate in school activities, connect to their community, learn valuable leadership skills and plan for their future.
  • For the 2023-24 school year, the Ministry of Education is providing $24 million to support initiatives and programs that help build a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students.


Creating safe and accepting schools


MEDIA CONTACTS                                                   
Erin Merkley
Office of MPP Steve Clark
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MPP Clark with RNJ Youth Services staff, students and community partners.
MPP Clark with RNJ Youth Services staff