Step Up Step Down

Step Up Step Down

The Youth Services Bureau (YSB), CHEO, and Le CAP, three partners of the Kids Come First Health Team, announce the launch of a new program called Step Up Step Down — a bilingual live-in-treatment program for youth aged 12 to 17 with complex mental health needs. Step Up Step Down addresses a service gap between hospitalization and community care.

The focus of the program is to support youth in the transition home from an inpatient hospital stay (step down) and from community based support to manage a deterioration in mental health which, without intervention, will likely lead to an inpatient hospital admission or readmission (step up). The program provides short-term (up to 30 days) stabilization and intensive individualized treatment during the youth’s stay with an emphasis on youth and family recovery and skill building that will lead to a successful return home. CHEO inpatient services have been operating at maximum capacity for several years now; half of the children and youth going to the CHEO emergency department are there seeking help for a mental health concern.

How to access the program

This program is available by referral only to youth who continue to struggle in spite of receiving intensive mental health services. Youth and caregivers should speak to their mental health provider at CHEO, the Royal, YSB, or Le CAP if they feel that Step Up Step Down might meet their treatment needs.

A Tour of Step Up Step Down

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Milo's Story

Every year when I was little, I’d think “this will be the year that everything will be okay”. And every year, I’d be crushed. By the time I was 18 I couldn’t take my dad’s drinking or my mom’s crying anymore, so I packed a knapsack with the warmest clothes I had and I left. It was freezing cold, and I was alone…but I was free.

The next few months were rough and at times very scary. I spent nights in parks, doorways and even under bridges all with just an old sleeping bag a friend had given me. One night it was so cold that I walked until the sun came up, afraid that I would freeze to death if I slept.

It took me awhile to get over the embarrassment to start asking people for money. But, it was swallow my pride or stay cold and hungry. After two weeks of doing this I learned about YSB. I didn’t know it then but, in that moment, my life changed for the better. I got connected to YSB’s Young Men’s Emergency Shelter and my first night in the shelter I slept 11 hours. I felt so safe and secure. I remember that moment clearly and I felt so hopeful I now have my own apartment in one of YSB’s long-term housing buildings, am attending college to become a graphic designer, and am working part-time to support myself.

“For the first time I can remember, I’m really excited about my future. Growing up I just thought about getting by one day at a time.” I hope my story conveys just how life changing it was for me to be able to access YSB’s shelter during a really difficult time in my life. The team at YSB supported me every step of the way, and I’m grateful they were by my side. I hope you’ll consider taking the opportunity to transform the life of another young person like me today.


*While Milo’s story is real his name has been changed to protect his privacy