Program focus: Abuse, Anti-Human Trafficking, Behaviour Difficulty, Budgeting, Case Management, Child Welfare, Communication Skills, Developmental Disability, Employment, Housing, Immigration, Legal, LGBT, Life Skills, Male identified, Mental Health, Postnatal, Psychoeducation, Resume building, School, Sex Work, Sexual Relationships, Skill Development, Socializing, Substance Abuse, Trauma, Work more…

The Gender-Based Violence Program provides free support to individuals who are involved or at risk of being involved in human trafficking or those who have been involved in the sex trade by choicecircumstance, or coercion. The program is grounded in treating trauma, relational therapy and addressing human rights. Our team works from a strength based, sex-positive, harm reduction and trauma-informed approach. We believe in empowering survivors to have self-worth and to build healthy support systems.

Our team is composed of Trauma TherapistsCommunity Outreach Workers and Peer Navigators. The GBV program offers the following services centred around client-directed service planning:

  1. Trauma Therapy. Our therapists use a trauma-informed approach to help clients overcome psychological trauma.  The GBV program recognizes that individuals who access our services often experience a combination of acute and developmental trauma.   An acute trauma can be one where a person perceives a threat to one’s life, body, or emotional safety.  Developmental trauma can occur because of adverse and chronic childhood experiences, such as neglect and abuse.  As a result of trauma, people may have difficulty coping with their experiences, which can be very distressing and disruptive to daily functioning. Our therapists support individuals by working toward managing trauma symptoms, reducing shame and blame and building healthy relationships.  Our therapists apply various therapeutic modalities in this process, including relational therapy and EMDR, as well as provide psychoeducation for participants and their family.
  2. Community Outreach & Education. The GBV team is available to provide outreach and education to youth 12-29 years old in various settings. Outreach and education take a preventative, non-judgemental approach to human trafficking/sex trafficking and incorporate topics such as healthy relationships, safety, consent and boundary setting. Concurrently, as part of our outreach, the GBV team can provide education on the topics of sex trafficking and trauma-informed care to service providers.
  3. Case Management & Service Navigation. Our Community Outreach Workers assist individuals with finding safe and affordable housing, accessing financial assistance, finding medical care, obtaining identification documents or legal consultation, school enrollment, job searching and can provide external referrals when needed. Assistance with life skill development, goal setting and budgeting support is also available
  4. Peer Support & Navigation. Our Peer Navigators actively advocate to reduce and end sexual exploitation. They act as support workers to encourage trauma recovery, build hope, confidence, and resilience within participants. The lived experience of the Peer Navigators lessens the isolation that many survivors feel, by creating a sense of belonging, connecting survivors with each other and to community-based resources. They can also offer assistance with appointments, court support, and aid with safety planning
  5. Support Group. Our Peer Navigators run an online support group with support from one of our Trauma Therapists. The group focuses on life skills and social/recreational activities.
  6. Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Counselling Program. This program offers short-term (8-12) immediate counselling sessions for children and youth who are victims of internet sexual exploitation and to their immediate family members. *ICE is available by referral only via the Ontario Provincial Police and BOOST. Learn more about ICE .

Any questions can be directed to the Gender-Based Violence Program at GBVinfo@stridestoronto.ca or 416-438-3697 ext. 13265.


On November 9, 2022, the Government of Canada endorsed the National Action Plan to End Gender-based Violence. Preventing and addressing GBV in Canada requires a coordinated national approach, with federal, provincial and territorial governments working in close partnership with survivors, Indigenous partners, direct service providers, experts, advocates, municipalities, the private sector and researchers.

The work of Strides Toronto’s Gender-Based Violence Program supports the vision of a Canada free from gender-based violence and supporting victims, survivors and their families regardless of where they live.

Eligibility details

  • Youth aged 12 – 29 years
  • Residing in Toronto
  • Involved in or at risk of being involved in human trafficking and/or current or previous involvement in the sex trade by choice, circumstance, or coercion
  • All gender identities welcomed
  • Have an identified need or goal to address

Please note that we are not a crisis service. If you are in immediate danger, please contact 911 immediately. The Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline (1-833-900-1010) is available 24 hours, 7 days a week for telephone support and referral information.

To complete a referral, please fill out our referral form

Find out more about our program here

Get in touch with us on Instagram

Program focus: Abuse, Autism, Behaviour Difficulty, Developmental Disability, LGBT, Mental Health, School, Sex Work, Skill Development, Trauma more…

Help Ahead: Access for Infants, Children, Youth & Families

Help Ahead is a free referral phone service to help connect infants, children, youth up to 18 years old and their families to mental health and addiction services in their community. Our goal is to help those in need find and get mental health help as efficiently and quickly as possible.

Anyone under the age of 18 experiencing a mental health issue or anyone who wants to support someone under the age of 18 and wants access to mental health services can call.

If you are a young person, you might call if you:

  • Feel anxious or worried
  • Feel depressed, sad or angry
  • Are being bullied
  • Don’t feel yourself…
  • Want more information about mental health and addiction services in your community.

If you are a parent/caregiver of an infant or child, you might call if:

  • Your infant/child is crying inconsolably; having tantrums; irregular sleep or eating patterns;
  • You are worried about your infant/child’s development; feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by parenting; or asking, “is this just a phase?”
  • You want more information about mental health and addiction services in your community.

Service providers, doctors, teachers, school social workers, child protection services and any other support service can call Help Ahead too for more information, but we will need the expressed consent of the person or parent to refer to a service.

Program focus: Abuse, Behaviour Difficulty, LGBT, Mental Health, Nutrition, School, Sex Work, Trauma more…

The What’s Up Walk-In® Clinic is Toronto’s only free, six day a week mental health counselling walk-in service for children, youth, young adults, and families. The clinic helps with issues such as depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal ideation, sexual identity matters, bullying, behavioural concerns, addictions, and anything else that might be on one’s mind. All the information you provide is confidential.

Therapists offer single sessions up to an hour long. We don’t judge. We will support you in your concerns and work collaboratively with you. The focus is on abilities, resources, and skills that you have, or you want to develop. Together we will target a priority concern and develop a plan with you that you feel comfortable with. If you feel you need more help, you can come back to the What’s Up Walk-In. All our therapists are clinically trained.

The clinic is barrier free, and accessible. No health card or appointment is necessary and it’s completely free!  The What’s Up Walk-In network is a collection of 6 agencies operating at 8 sites across the City of Toronto.

Hours of service

In-person Sessions at Strides Toronto (as of March 1, 2024)
Monday – Thursday, 12 PM – 8 PM
Friday, 12 PM – 5 PM
Saturday, 10 AM – 4 PM
Location: 1200 Markham Road, Suite 200, Scarborough

Virtual Sessions
Friday, 2 PM – 8 PM

To be connected to a counsellor for a telephone or video session, call us at 416-438-3697 press 1 and then enter ext. 12230 for reception.

  • Registration closed 1h 30 mins prior to the end of in-person service hours.
  • No appointment is necessary; first come, first served.
  • Face masks are recommended for in-person sessions.
  • Services closed on statutory holidays.

Supported by RBC:

In partnership with:

Program focus: Behaviour Difficulty

The Priority Access for Students (PAS) Program provides individual and family focused counselling services as well as case management for Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board students and their families.
Students who need support and help are identified and referred by their school social workers to this program. Counselling can be provided in home or in office and includes collaboration with the schools to support students and their families around their identified mental health needs.

The goal of PAS is to prepare youth to function independently and effectively within the school environment, the greater community and in the home. We also work to prevent youth from needing more intensive services like a Residential Treatment program in the future. Trained clinicians provide Individual and Family Therapy once a week or up to two times a week if needed. Sometimes workers will meet clients in their community, at their school, or in their home, but we encourage in-office sessions at flexible times during the day or evening.

We will also connect youth to community resources that might be difficult to access.

Program focus: Behaviour Difficulty, Life Skills, Mental Health, School, Trauma

The Day Treatment – Youth program provides an educational setting combined with therapy that helps young people to deal with a variety of problems and helps them to return to the school system or enter the work force. Youth eligible for Day Treatment are between 12 to 18 years old and are not able to succeed in a community school.

The student’s schedule includes three academic periods and one period of therapy, including Adolescent Life Skills and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). The focus on therapy allows youth to explore personal areas of strength and focus on development skills in the areas of: mood regulation, anger management, communication skills, relationship building, self-esteem/self-awareness, responsibility, stress management, substance use, and problem solving. Youth take part in planning their own program and future goals. Each classroom is staffed by an Strides Toronto Child and Youth Worker and a TDSB teacher. An Individual and Family Therapist is also assigned to the young person and their family to help navigate day treatment services and provide ongoing counselling

In general, youth that are referred to the program have at least one of the below diagnoses:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Bipolar Affective Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Major Depression
  • Conduct Disorder
  • Learning Disability
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Personality Disorder.

In addition, many of these youths have difficulties with peers, authority figures, family members and/or involvement with youth criminal justice system. The average length of treatment is one year, with three to six months of follow-up to ensure a successful transition to mainstream or alternative program as well as consultation with agency psychologist and consulting psychiatrist on a regular basis.

Strides Toronto’s Day Treatment Program operates in cooperation with the Toronto District School Board and is open to youth residing in Scarborough, from all Toronto School Boards.

We have five Day Treatment Programs:

  • Highschool: Two programs at Cedarbrae Collegiate & one program at Winston Churchill Collegiate
  • Elementary: Grades 7 and 8 at Charles Gordon Senior Public School and Donview Middle School

We also offer a Youth Justice Day Treatment Program. This is a high school program for young people up to 21 years old that are involved with the Youth Justice System. This is done in partnership with Springboard. We serve youth from around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). To access this service, you must be referred by probation through Springboard.

Service Duration
On average students remain in our program for a year. Some stay for one semester and others can stay for longer. The program is individualized, and length of stay is discussed / agreed upon with the client / family and treatment team.

Students entering the program need to have an expressed mental health concern and be open and committed to engaging in counselling.

Our program is not ideal for youth who present with intellectual disabilities given the intensive cognitive based therapy modality.

Referral details

  • Youth or family member can call Help Ahead at 1-866-585-6486.
  • You will then be required to complete a telephone intake.
  • Referrals can be sent by schools / TDSB Centralized Intake, but clients and families still need to contact intake to provide consent to service.

Program focus: Abuse, Behaviour Difficulty, Mental Health

Our Community Counselling program helps children, youth and their families understand, overcome and manage personal problems and/or mental health issues. This might include feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, dealing with trauma, addiction, behaviour issues, or conflicts in relationships with peers or within the family. This might include anxiety, depression, trauma, addiction, behaviour issues, or conflicts in relationships and within the family.

The goal of community counselling is to provide therapy, either individually or with families/caregivers, to help the child, young person and/or family explore options, find solutions, develop coping strategies, identify strengths, locate information, provide resources and promote healing, resiliency and self-empowerment so the young person can be successful in their home, school and community.

Our staff are clinically trained in a variety of counselling styles and approaches. We will work with you to meet you where you’re at and to determine the best type of therapy for you.

What to expect?

In your first session you will learn about the service, get to know the therapist, we want to get to know you and what you may be struggling with, you can ask questions, see if we are a right fit for you, or if another program may be better suited to your needs

To learn more about some of the benefits and risks of counselling, visit our FAQ page!

You can also access our What’s Up Walk-In service and you feel you need longer term counselling, let the therapist know and they can direct you.

Referral details

Self-Referral: A youth or family can refer themselves to Community Counselling. Just ask to speak to our intake line. If a family or caregiver is calling on behalf of the youth, Intake will schedule a time to contact the youth to get verbal consent before continuing with the intake process.

Program focus: Behaviour Difficulty, Communication Skills, Employment, Housing, Immigration, Income Support, LGBT, Mental Health, Primary Care Support Referrals, School, Skill Development, Socializing, Trauma more…

The Youth Outreach Worker Program is an initiative for at-risk youth ages 12 to 21 years old and their families in East Toronto. It is designed to help empower and provide them with individualized programming to meet their unique needs and circumstances. Youth Outreach Workers (YOWs) also work with other community resources to coordinate youth activities and services.

We also have specialized YOWs who have a focus on specific populations in Toronto, such as Syrian, Afghan and Tamil. Their goal is to make programs and services more accessible to youth and their families by overcoming language and cultural barriers. Outreach to specific populations help inform members of the community of the availability of services and to remove the stigma and fear associated with accessing services such as mental health.

We also offer clinical services as part of our Enhanced Youth Outreach Workers program (EYOW). In addition to providing support services, EYOWs can offer intensive intervention for example in the areas of mental health, addictions, trauma, relationship or family violence and / or human and sex trafficking etc.

Some of the many services we connect youth and families with include:

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Legal
  • Education & alternative learning
  • Volunteer hours
  • Drop-in Programs
  • Assistance in Applying for schools, loans & government assistance
  • Help getting ID, SIN and Health Card
  • Food Banks
  • Counselling
  • Newcomer youth programs

YOW/EYOW Referral Form

Please use this form when referring clients/participants to the YOW/EYOW team.

Program focus: Abuse, ADD/ADHD, Behaviour Difficulty, Child Development, Child Welfare, Communication Skills, Mental Health, Parenting, Skill Development, Socializing, Trauma more…

Live-in treatment at Strides Toronto is an intensive, therapeutic, twenty-four-hour care and treatment program for children whose social, emotional and behavioural difficulties are such that they have been unable to adequately function in a family setting, even with the provision of less intrusive service alternatives such as outpatient counselling or Day Treatment.

The program provides a range of services including assessment, twenty four-hour care and treatment; in-home support related to parenting and child management; children’s groups; individual child and family treatment; and aftercare. Program consultants are available as required for psychological and psychiatric assessments as well as on-going treatment consultation. Other specialized assessments are arranged as required e.g., speech and language, occupational therapy and neuropsychological testing.

The purpose of the program is to promote opportunities for children and their families to learn and practice new social skills and regulate emotions that will enable the children to return home. For those children for whom returning home is not possible, emphasis is placed on preparing them for integration into their next home environment.

“Betty’s Place” is a staff operated treatment program located in a residential neighborhood that serves six children at one time (male and female). The program is funded and licensed by the Ministry of Children, Community & Social Services under the Child and Family Services Act.

Quick Access
Quick Access is a bed designated to the various Child Welfare agencies for their clients who require access for children needing immediate placement. Clients who are admitted through the Quick Access process will receive the same treatment as any other client admitted through the Regular Service process.

Eligibility Details

Residential Service is provided to children primarily between the ages of 6-12. Children are referred through Help Ahead Central Point of Intake from across Toronto. The specific admission criteria for the service include:

  1. Children who continue to experience social/emotional difficulties in their home environment despite previous less intrusive interventions.
  2. Children must have at least average intellectual potential, i.e. children who do not require educational services designed for the developmentally delayed.
  3. Child must be able to be safely maintained in an unlocked community setting.
  4. Families must be willing to be involved in monthly treatment planning meetings, family work, in house behaviour management sessions, and attend organized family events within the residence
  5. A child who may have a mild form of autism will be considered.
  6. Children with physical handicaps will be considered given the limitations of our site.

The Live-In Treatment program is funded by Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS).

Program focus: Abuse, Behaviour Difficulty, Child Welfare, Life Skills, Mental Health, Trauma

Our all gendered Live-In Treatment Program is a volunteer program offered to youth who are coping with an array of psychological, emotional, and/or behavioural challenges that interfere with their daily lives and can no longer live at home and are seeking support.

Youth live in a large home called The Megan Residence with other youth. Their daily routines are highly structured, providing a safe, predictable environment, which promotes self-reliance in preparation for independent living or semi-independent living, transition back home or into the community, or a move to adult mental health services.

Using Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) as the basis for treatment, we provide short and long-term treatment in collaboration with clinicians such as psychiatrists and psychologists. When family (biological or chosen) are involved, we require them to participate in the youth’s treatment as we utilize a Family Systems Model to support wholistic care. Each youth enrolled in our Live-In Treatment Program will be assigned an individual and family therapist to provide both individual and family therapy.

Strides Toronto has been providing services for children and youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), developmental disabilities, and/or dual diagnoses for over 20 years. As a trusted agency in Toronto, a high degree of inter-professional partnership is in place to support information sharing and collaboration among services and the community.

We are proud of the high-quality, evidence-based practices our Autism and Developmental Services provide to the children, youth, adults, and the families we serve. Our service offerings are flexible and consider individual needs. Individualized intake assessments are completed to help determine a plan for service.

Behavioural interventions and family services are integrated and coordinated with other services (e.g., mental health) which a child or youth and their family may be receiving. The wide range of services available to children, youth and their families are frequently evaluated and monitored to be flexible and responsive to changing evidence and practice.

Developmental Services provides therapeutic programming and respite to youth and adults with an autism spectrum disorder and/or a developmental disability. The services delivered strive to promote independence, encouraging the development and maintaining of a peer network, empowering them to build their capabilities, with the goal of enhancing their social and life skills development.

Family-centered care is the fundamental basis of service delivery within Strides Toronto’s Autism and Developmental Services. This approach values parents and caregivers as experts on their child and as key decision makers in their child’s interventions. It also recognizes their lifelong commitment to their child’s learning and wellness.

We offer a variety of in-person and virtual services and resources to support families. Our virtual services are offered by phone or by video through our secure Zoom Healthcare platform.