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Steps to Success

About Steps to Success

Steps to Success is a care and treatment program based in a community school. It has both a therapeutic as well as an academic component. The program is designed to respond to the mental health and educational needs of children between the ages of 4 to 13 with complex emotional and behavioral problems. The goal of the program is to build on the child’s strengths and develop strategies that will best respond to their needs. The program works in partnership with parents or guardians, community schools as well as other professionals who may be involved in the child’s care.

The program uses a milieu-based approach where the child attends a program that occurs primarily within a classroom. The classroom staff or “core team” consists of a combination of teachers, child and youth counselors and educational assistants. The core team has access to a range of other professionals to assist in responding to the needs of the child. These professionals include: psychiatry, psychology social work, speech and language and occupational therapy.

Many services can be offered:

  • Consulting services from psychiatrists are provided when necessary and appropriate. The role of the consulting psychiatrist is to assist the core team in understanding the strengths and needs of the child and, if necessary, consult with the family physician or pediatrician about medication options that might be helpful.
  • Social workers assist in responding to psychosocial challenges by providing support and education to families as needed.
  • Speech and language pathologist assists in understanding and providing treatment that will work to respond to communication issues of the child.
  • Occupational therapist assists in understanding and providing treatment that will respond to the sensory and motor issues of the child
  • Psychology services that assist in understanding the needs and strengths of your child.

It is important to note that access to these services is determined based on need and availability of the services. Additionally, while the academic programs follow the Ministry of Education curriculum, the primary focus of the program is based on behavioral, emotional and social skills development.

CHEO and M.F.McHugh Education Centre also offer Outreach Services to support the reintegration of students who are leaving the intensive treatment phase of the program and returning to a community school. Prior to discharge, a meeting is typically organized with the receiving school and school board as part of the Day Treatment\McHugh discharge planning process. After discharge, a clinical and\or educational staff member can provide the Outreach Services at the child’s community school. These services may include:

  • Support for the school staff and student on a scheduled basis; consultation with the receiving school staff about behavioural needs and educational strategies.
  • Consultation regarding the child’s particular needs, strengths and weaknesses based on the multidisciplinary assessment and treatment.
  • Support for the parent in establishing communication and involvement with the school.
  • Establishment of new community resource supports as available and needed.
  • Follow-up of clinical appointments will be determined as needed by the child’s physician.

Our approach:

The program operates within a Collaborative Problem Solving Approach. This involves the use of a positive approach to changing behaviors in partnership with the family and the child.

It is vital that parents or guardians are actively involved in the program because the nature of the services are designed to involve the parents or guardians. The book entitled “The Explosive Child” by Ross W. Greene, PhD, is a helpful tool to understand the program’s philosophy of collaborative problem-solving. This approach will assist both the parents or guardians and the treatment team in the development of the most effective and helpful treatment plan.

We are in the process of developing a parent group to share important information about the collaborative problem-solving approach and techniques which will ensure continuity at school and at home.

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What to Expect:

Both you and your child will participate in an intake process that will involve members of the Steps to Success team. This is an important opportunity for you to provide all the necessary information about your child’s strengths and needs as well as ensure that you will be involved in the development of your child’s treatment throughout their participation in the program. Daily communication with you and the classroom team throughout your child’s agenda is strongly encouraged and greatly valued.

Several months after your child has started at Steps to Success, there will a treatment plan meeting where goals and strategies will be discussed with you. As well, there will be a meeting to discuss your child’s Individual Educational Plan (IEP)

The average length of stay in our program is one school year. Discharge planning begins at the point of admission into the program, taking into account the unique needs of your child. The Steps to Success team, you and your child’s community school will be involved in this process. There will be a discharge meeting with the receiving school to share all the information about your child that we have gathered and the strategies that can help your child.

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Frequently Asked Questions


Transportation is provided by your Board of Education and is arranged through the M.F. McHugh Education Centre Head Office. You will be contacted about your child’s transportation arrangements one or two days prior to his or her start date.

Clothing and Equipment:

Children should be appropriately dressed for the weather conditions at all times.


There may be days when your child will be asked to bring a small amount of money for special events such as hot dog days, bake sales and special outings.

Food and Allergies:

Please inform staff during the Intake Meetings if your child has any drug or food allergies. All medication such as an Epi-pen requires appropriate consents and information forms to be completed prior to your child entering the program.

Medical Insurance:

Your child will need to have a valid OHIP card to begin and stay in the program. Should you move and change addresses, or your child’s card expires, please notify OHIP at 613-237-9100 as well as the classroom staff of the change.

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CHEO as a Training Centre:

CHEO is a teaching hospital that provides educational and teaching opportunities to all disciplines involved in health care. The Steps to Success program will have students, residents and interns involved in such opportunities throughout the year.

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