By Pam Wright, The Chatham Voice, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
In an attempt to broaden its reach, Chatham-Kent Children’s Services has a new name and a new logo.
The agency is now called Linck, which represents a chain linked together, symbolizing the agency’s goal of strengthening families, youth and children.
Executive director Teri Thomas-Vanos said comments from a 16 year old helped spark the change.
While she was holding focus groups with teens, she learned young people didn’t look as CKCS as an option as it appeared it was only for children.
“A 16 year old asked me to “look at our name,” Thomas-Vanos explained, with the youth saying the words “children’s services,” and the primary colours and stick people in the logo made youth feel left out.
“Key stakeholders, specifically teens, told us that they did not see our services as a resource for them,” Thomas-Vanos said.
But that knowledge led to an engagement process with staff and stakeholders to discover how the agency could better serve all aspects of the community.
Rebranding evolved from there, Thomas-Vanos noted, with the renaming billed as an intentional effort to ensure the organization is visible, recognizable and representative to the community.
With 220 employees, Linck offers a myriad of services through a multi-disciplinary approach, Thomas-Vanos said, noting their many services for youth are a “well-kept secret.”
“One of our best-kept secrets is that we’re a multi-service organization so a lot of times, because we’re a child welfare agency, that dominates a lot of the presence we take in the community,” Thomas-Vanos noted.
“We’re also child welfare and mental health, developmental services and youth justice,” she said. “We support families too, we know kids don’t exist in isolation.”
A full range of disciplines are represented, Thomas-Vanos said, from social work to psychotherapy to psychiatry, adding there’s also a focus on reconciliation efforts with Indigenous children and families.
A bright and airy room that’s used as meeting place for teens is an example of offering tools to youth, Thomas-Vanos said, as she showed off a wall that displayed messages of hope and belonging.
Youth are welcome to hang out, cook and access help there if needed, she said.
Besides the rebranding, there’s another new project in the wings. Linck is partnering with the YMCA of Chatham-Kent to build a new child-care centre onsite. It’s set to open later this year.
Thomas-Vanos said it’s important that children, youth, caregivers and parents feel empowered to reach out to Linck for help, with families or youth able to self-refer to access the provincially funded service.
“Our doors are open,” the director said, noting Linck staffers are looking forward to getting past the pandemic.
“We want to be proactive, to provide supports upstream so they don’t have to be in crisis to get help.”
Linck is located at 495 Grand Ave. W. and can be accessed at www.linck.org.