Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Education




Dr. Vicki Schwean


This organizational improvement plan (OIP) describes a way to develop and implement a system of care philosophy within a district school board with the intent of spreading this philosophy throughout the district, province, and country in the future. It is intended to be used as a tool to guide other district school boards interested in implementing a system of care. More specifically, the problem of practice this OIP is intended to address is as follows: “The current model of care for JK-8 students with mental health needs must improve. The service delivery system and pathways to treatment for child and youth mental health in Canada, and in Ontario specifically, are costly, highly fragmented, and dif­ficult to navigate for families and children (Shanley, Reid, & Evans, 2008; Pepler & Bryant, 2011). A system of care, which wraps diverse services around children and families within the communities in which they live, learn, and play, is a better way to meet the needs of children and youth with mental health and other challenges and their families as compared to the current fragmented system (Stroul, Blau & Friedman, 2010). A readiness to change is a strategic first step to realizing this goal. As such, this OIP explores the leadership capacities necessary to develop, in principals and vice principals within an urban district school board, a readiness for change that will facilitate the development a system of care for child and youth mental health. This OIP can be generalized to other organizations outside education, including agencies, municipalities, and provincial and national governments. A definition of a system of care is offered along with the accompanying values and principles for system management approaches and principles for service delivery. Development and management of a system of care in a community involves strengthening relationships with all human service agencies, a change in system management models, and case management and review, wherein all partners agree to abide by the definition, values, and principles of a system of care. Assessment with respect to readiness to change, equity and adherence to system of care structures, values, and principles are offered, as well as the tools which are to be used initially and at regular intervals at all stages of development and implementation.