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Anthea Charles and family including Idika
More services for GTA children and youth with extensive neurodevelopmental needs

Holland Bloorview’s Extensive Needs Service partners with Grandview Kids, Michael Garron Hospital and Surrey Place so more families can access care closer to home

[pictured above: Anthea Charles and her family including Idika Theodore Njoku on far right]

TORONTO, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023 --- With limited financial resources, Anthea Charles has struggled to find the right care and services to help her son Idika function outside their home. Since turning 15 years old, his meltdowns have included aggressive and destructive behaviour that his family had never seen before and has made school attendance increasingly difficult. His inability to communicate with his family and loved ones made it almost impossible to know how to help him -- until Idika was able to receive care through Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital's new Extensive Needs Service.

Now, more children and youth, like Idika, with complex and extensive care, neurodevelopmental and behavioural needs can receive timely, personalized, wrap-around supports – right in their own neighbourhoods in the Greater Toronto Area, thanks to the partnership announced today by Holland Bloorview, Grandview Kids, Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) and Surrey Place.

This regional partnership comes on the heels of the April 2023 launch of the Extensive Needs Service (ENS) program through which Holland Bloorview, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and McMaster Children’s Hospital are providing critical specialized neurodevelopmental health services to over 1,000 families annually.

Funded by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, this program was developed for children who have multiple neurodevelopmental, behavioural, medical and physical needs, as well as social vulnerabilities – kids who have otherwise fallen through the cracks of a complex health and developmental services system.

Overall, the program is designed to reduce barriers to accessing timely, evidence-based treatment for some of the most vulnerable children in the province.

Families participating in the Extensive Needs Service can connect to a team of professionals, including physicians, social workers, occupational therapists and behavioural consultants who work together to provide tailored support based on the individual needs of the child or youth and their families. Services are individualized, trauma-informed and can include prescribing or adjusting medications; goal-directed behaviour therapy; mental health assessments and treatment; social work, such as counselling for parents and caregivers; and other specialized interventions to support children and youth to build skills, such as communication and self-regulation.

 As the SmartStart Hub for Toronto, Surrey Place will serve as an entry point to help families navigate to and access care through the Extensive Needs Service with dedicated service coordinators who will work closely with families to coordinate their care at Holland Bloorview’s Extensive Needs Service program.

Toronto families interested in the Extensive Needs Service program and who are not currently receiving care at Holland Bloorview can connect with Surrey Place online or by calling 1-833-575-KIDS (5437) to inquire about their eligibility to access these supports.

For Anthea, Holland Bloorview’s Extensive Needs Service Program has given her reason to hope again. Since Idika was enrolled in the program early this spring, she has noticed that he is more expressive, more patient and more flexible. “I feel like I’m getting my son back. I can’t thank the program staff enough for how they’ve helped my son so much now.”


“Our government is improving the experiences and long-term outcomes for children and youth with complex special needs. We are investing $97 million in the Extensive Needs Service pilot program to support more than 1,000 children with complex special needs every year,” said Michael Parsa, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “When children and families can access services tailored to their needs, the short and long-term outcomes for children improve, as do their parents well-being.” - Michael Parsa, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services

“Our government is taking action by working with our health partners to connect children and youth and their families to specialized care, closer to home. This new and innovative partnership will ensure children and youth with complex needs in Toronto and Durham Region can access the care and services they need and deserve in their community.” - Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health

“This new partnership between Holland Bloorview, Grandview Kids, Michael Garron Hospital and Surrey Place will provide access to Extensive Needs Service program to more families of children with complex care needs in the Greater Toronto Area. Instead of spending time navigating a complex system, families will be able to get their care their child needs and deserves in a way that is connected and convenient.” – Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance

“By joining forces with our new partners, children, youth and their families living in Toronto and Durham Region can receive the specialized care they need closer to their homes and delivered by their local healthcare teams. Thanks to the support from the Government of Ontario, we are helping to support a health system that is more agile, socially accountable and accessible to families.” - Julia Hanigsberg, president and CEO of Holland Bloorview

“We are honoured to partner with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital to implement an Extensive Needs Service Program in Durham Region. Children with extensive needs, living in our community, deserve to have access to coordinated, responsive care close to home. This reduces the burden on these families to travel long distances to see their providers, which only further exacerbates the caregiver burnout so many experience due to the current lack of support for this vulnerable population. ” Tom McHugh, CEO, Grandview Kids

“As a mother, I have done everything I can for my children and it’s still not enough. Available resources are greatly limited, waitlists are long, being selected for funding is akin to playing the lottery and costs to procure private services are high. The Extensive Needs Service is helping prevent us from losing our kids and our home. Rory’s therapy is vital to her life and the wellbeing of our entire family.” - Jamie, mom to Rory who is receiving care from Grandview Kids

“MGH is excited to partner with Holland Bloorview to launch this critical service in early 2024 to meet the needs of children, youth and families in East Toronto. Most importantly, this service is close to home, low-barrier, with timely, personalized care based on each child’s need. ” - Dr. Krista Lemke, medical director of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH).

“We are thrilled to be part of the Extensive Needs Service and are honoured to join all our partners to provide more seamless and personalized health services for families who need it the most. Surrey Place has a unique role in this partnership, acting as the entry point to help families access and navigate care through Extensive Needs Service. In our role as the lead agency for coordinated service planning, our focus is to reduce barriers for families with children and youth who have multiple or complex special needs, and connect them with the right services and supports, based on their strengths and needs. Our dedicated service coordinators will work alongside families to determine goals for services, coordinate and make referrals to the right community supports, and ensure families are at the center of the decision-making process.” - Terri Hewitt, CEO, Surrey Place



About Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital believes in creating a world where all youth and children belong. We are the only children’s rehabilitation hospital in Canada focused on combining world-class care, transformational research, and academic leadership in the field of child and youth rehabilitation and disability. We are a top 40 Canadian research hospital that is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto. Providing both inpatient and outpatient services, Holland Bloorview is renowned for its expertise in co-creating with clients and families to provide exceptional care and is the only organization to ever achieve 100 per cent in three successive quality surveys by Accreditation Canada. Holland Bloorview is a founding member of Kids Health Alliance, a network of partners working to create a high quality, consistent and coordinated approach to pediatric health care that is centred around children, youth and their families. Together we dream big. Together we champion a world of possibility.

About Grandview Kids

Founded in 1953, Grandview Kids is a family-centred, independently operated non-profit organization dedicated to supporting children and youth with physical, communication and developmental needs. Through specialized programs, rehabilitation services and outpatient clinical therapies, Grandview Kids supports children and youth to live life at their full potential. Learn more

About Michael Garron Hospital

Nestled in the heart of East Toronto, Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) is a vibrant community teaching hospital serving more than 400,000 people in 22 distinct neighbourhoods. For more than 90 years, MGH has delivered high-quality, patient-centred healthcare services to families along the continuum of care, from welcoming a new life to facing end-of-life. MGH is a full-service hospital with strong community and research partners, including the University of Toronto. MGH is a proud member of East Toronto Health Partners, the Ontario Health Team serving East Toronto.

About Surrey Place

Surrey Place is a leading provider of services and support for individuals with confirmed or suspected developmental or intellectual disability. With over 60 years of experience in the field, Surrey Place is committed to providing exceptional care and support to help individuals achieve their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.

Media contacts:

Suelan Toye
Senior Research Communications Specialist
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
Cell: 416-520-7953

Avori Cheyne
Chief Communications Officer | Executive Lead, Strategic Communications, Partnerships, Engagement
Grandview Kids

Alison Shouldice
Senior Communications Specialist
Michael Garron Hospital

Betty Kim
Senior Communications Specialist
Surrey Place