Skylark – born from the merging of Delisle Youth Services and Oolagen Youth Mental Health – is a leading Toronto-based charity dedicated to children, young people and their families struggling with complex mental health and developmental needs.
The inclusion of the words “children” and “families” to our new name and brand represents the expanded reach of our newly formed agency. While families have always been an integral part of the programs and services at both Delisle and Oolagen, Skylark Children, Youth & Families also has the capacity and expertise to include a younger demographic and now serves children and youth from birth through to twenty-four years of age.
As we move forward, our merged organization has the strength and depth to help more children, young people and families get the help they need, when they need it.
Delisle was founded in 1973 by a group of caring citizens who saw a need to help local young people who were struggling. The organization matured into an accredited non-profit agency focused on children, young people and their families experiencing mental health challenges as well as those with complex special needs. Delisle provided services directly to clients as well as systems and data collection support to the broader sector, funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
Oolagen, founded in 1967 by youth worker Jim Wakeford, initially was a downtown residential treatment program for young people with addictions. Oolagen evolved into an accredited, non-profit youth and children’s mental health agency and University of Toronto teaching facility. It offered a wide range of ground-breaking, innovative programs and outreach services – with a proven track record of helping young people and their families make positive changes in their lives.
For nearly 90 years combined, Oolagen and Delisle helped Toronto young people and their families overcome the devastating emotional, social and psychological effects of complex mental health and developmental needs.
Today, Skylark is a community of services that builds the social, emotional and developmental capacity for children, youth and families to realize their full potential.
What’s in a name? The skylark is a bird slightly larger than a sparrow – and just as unremarkable in appearance. But something sets the skylark apart from its fellow ground nesting birds: its ability to take flight and soar up 100 meters in the sky, all while singing its unique and beautiful song. Most often heard at daybreak, the skylark’s song has been said to “chase away the darkness.” For centuries, writers, poets, musicians and artists have found inspiration from this common-looking creature with the most extraordinary strength and skills.
After numerous consultations with young people, donors and other major stakeholders, Skylark Children, Youth & Families was unanimously chosen by our youth as the name that best captures the spirit of both Delisle and Oolagen. It is evocative, inspirational and aspirational; it also speaks to our brand promise and our desire to effect systemic change in the child and youth mental health sector. We believe our new name reflects our clients – our children, young people and their families – as well as embodying a message of hope and promise that they, too, can soar to new heights and sing their own, unique and glorious song.
A community of services that builds the social, emotional and developmental capacity for children, youth and families to realize their full potential.
We collaborate with children, youth and families with complex mental health and/or developmental needs to enhance their wellbeing, resilience and capabilities. We provide coordinated access and service resolution to expand the capacity of community partners responding to complex needs.
Integrity We operate with integrity and accountability in everything we do.
Evidence-informed We provide responsive, innovative and individualized programs and services informed by evidence, youth and families.
Collaboration and Partnerships We bring together children, youth, families and community partners to create positive change.
Youth and Family Engagement We believe all children, youth and families have strengths and skills. This drives all aspects of our work and is incorporated at all levels of our organization.
Diversity We honour diverse traditions and points of view and recognize the inequities caused by social injustice.
At Skylark Children, Youth and Families, we put our clients first by maintaining high standards of service delivery. Our ongoing, agency-wide program evaluation and quality improvement activities allow us to determine what impact our services are having on the people that come to us for help and how satisfied they are with their service experience. By utilizing pre and post measurement tools and client satisfaction surveys as part of service delivery and a balanced scorecard to measure performance across the organization, Skylark takes a continuous quality improvement approach to our work to remain accountable to our stakeholders. For more information, click the link to our Quality Assurance and Service Evaluation.