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Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the needs of Ontario’s most vulnerable youth

From our Leaders

The fiscal year covered in this report has been like no other for the youth we serve, our team, and the many community partners we work with. Yet, as the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we maintained operations and even expanded our ability to serve Ontario’s most vulnerable youth and their families.

For example, we implemented a program to provide immediate mental health treatment and navigational support to youth and families experiencing crisis and extreme isolation. Our Day Treatment and School Based Mental Health programs expanded and are now delivered through eight high schools in the Ottawa Valley. We even collaborated with community partners to launch a program to address human trafficking in the region.

None of this would have been possible without the Roberts/Smart Centre team. Through it all they continued to be there and to put the security and wellbeing of youth above all else. This commitment, humility, and passion for helping the youth we serve is deeply entrenched in our culture.

As you will discover in our first virtual annual report, the global pandemic brought with it important changes. However, it also highlighted once again that we are an agile, innovative, compassionate, and well-managed organization.

We hope you enjoy reliving some of the highlights of 2020-2021 with us. Happy reading!

Simon Brazier
President of the Board of Directors

Catherine Van Vliet
Executive Director

Facts and Figures

Map of Ontario that shows where live-in clients are from.


Sources of Revenue for 2020-2021

Responding to the Pandemic together: Stories from 2020-2021

The pandemic changed life as we knew it. Families were turned upside down, mental health challenges soared, and most of the city’s workforce brought their work life home. But while most of the city shuttered, the many Roberts/Smart programs continued to function almost normally.

Alongside our community partners, we looked at alternative ways of supporting our community’s emotional development during this time of heightened need, putting our kids first, and ensuring that together, we helped to mitigate the barriers of social isolation that our kids and their families lived with everyday. Here are but a few examples.

Support in times of crisis and extreme isolation

Built in collaboration with child welfare and youth mental health providers, our Strengths over Adversities Response (SOAR) Program provided immediate mental health treatment and navigational support to vulnerable youth and families experiencing crisis and extreme isolation. While awaiting other community services to commence, the program provided therapeutic support, systems navigation, counselling, and family supports which enabled parents to develop problem-solving strategies with their children. This program was critical to our community’s welfare as Ottawa has the 4th highest number of vulnerable children in the province experiencing problems with well-being, emotional maturity, and social competence.

Expansion of Day Treatment and School-Based Mental Health programs

There could not have been a more difficult year to attend school. We therefore expanded our partnerships with the Ottawa Catholic and the Ottawa Carleton District School Boards to increase space for youth aged 14-18 experiencing severe behavioural and mental health challenges that made it difficult for them to function in their current academic setting. Our Day Treatment and School-Based Mental Health Programs (SBMH) are delivered through eight local high schools, the newest of which was launched this year at St. Paul High School. The program supports the academic needs and mental health challenges of each youth through an individualized treatment plan – the final goal being their reintegration back to and/or support in a traditional school setting.

A community approach to end human trafficking

Girl on Cell PhoneWe also launched a community approach to address human trafficking in the Ottawa region and Eastern Ontario. The prevalence of human trafficking in the nation’s capital has been a growing concern for a number of years amongst service providers, health practitioners, educators and law enforcement. In fact, Ottawa has the second highest rate of police reported human trafficking incidents in the province. CORATH (Creating Opportunities and Resources Against Human Trafficking), a collaborative partnership amongst Roberts/Smart Centre, VoiceFound, the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa, Elizabeth Fry Ottawa, and Youturn. The program was launched to prevent and intervene in human trafficking efforts targeting those most at risk, Indigenous and LGBTQ2+ female populations, aged 12 to 24.

RSC staff ensure that kids and families remain our top priority

Although community partnerships were a key approach in ensuring that our kids and families remained our top priority over the last year, none of our work would have been possible without the unfaltering commitment of our staff.

As health measures forced community programs across the city to shut down or pivot to virtual care, we stepped up. As an essential service to high-risk kids in congregate, live-in and community settings, shuttering our services was not an option that our kids or their families could afford. Our staff went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that they continued to feel safe and that they could continue with their education and activities.

Staff showed up in-person, everyday, to ensure that the program and educational curriculum for kids in Secure and Live-In treatment went uninterrupted. Live-in and Secure treatment programs looked a little different, but our incredible staff always ensured that this, their home away from home, remained warm, welcoming and supportive, and that family visitations continued. Arts & crafts and board games saw an unprecedented resurgence. Gathering in public settings was no longer possible, but once again, we adapted, and individualized activities such as street basketball replaced community time.

Our community programs and transition teams were equally adaptive. Those who were able to meet with us virtually did, but for most, we found ways to offer counselling in person outdoors. Accessing community facilities or meeting up at Tim Horton’s was no longer possible but going for a walk in the park, despite the freezing temperatures, and meeting people wherever they were, albeit socially distanced, continued to be a priority.

Our amazing front-line workers, led by Omar A., also found time to raise $30,000 for the Centre with their annual golf tournament. The harsh reality of a world in lock-down did not hamper their efforts, demonstrating once again, that our staff’s commitment and passion for helping the youth we serve, is unsurpassed.

Thank you to all our generous sponsors. We would like to give a special shout out to our title sponsors:

Mattamy Homes Logo Tomlinson Logo

Dr. Greg Motayne retires after 14 years as RSC’s Director of Secure Treatment

Dr. Greg MotayneBefore his retirement in June 2021, Dr. Greg Motayne served as Director of Secure Treatment program for 14 years.

As a forensics psychiatrist with a dedication to youth and families, Greg quickly became part of the RSC work family. Greg or Dr M as he is known, was always open to opinions, questions and comments. He took the extra time to explain and to share perspectives that made RSC treatment more holistic and individualized. Greg understood the voice of the client and family.
A provincial advocate for youth mental health treatment, Greg’s stories and insight helped decision-makers see what RSC could achieve with the proper funding.

The Roberts/Smart Centre thanks Dr. Greg Motayne for his years of dedication, for his collegiality and his leadership. Greg has improved the lives of at-risk youth from across the province and has been an inspiration to us all!

Thank you to our Long Service Award Winners!

Long Service - 2020Long Service - 2021


Thank you for your support!

This year we would like to recognize our Partners who helped us through the Pandemic:

Ontario Ministry of Health
Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services
United Way East Ontario
Ottawa Community Foundation
Dairy Distillery



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