The Children and Youth Planning Table has two Co-Chairs, Debbie Engel and Barb Cardow.
The Co-Chairs, along with the Steering Committee, provide leadership, vision, and strategic direction to the Children and Youth Planning Table.
I was born and raised in Waterloo Region, went away for University, but always knew I wanted to come home. I am married and have two wonderful sons who are both attending University, one locally and the other in Thunder Bay. I have worked in the Not for Profit world for over 27 years in various capacities, such as Corrections, Youth Pregnancy, Recreation but with my main focus being in Children's Mental Health. I am currently the Director of Community Services at Carizon Family and Community Services and have a diverse portfolio that includes, Prenatal Programs, Early Learning Programs, Community Mental Health Programs, Neighbourhood Based Centres, and Pathways to Education. Over the past 10 years my passion has been about community based work and systems integration so that we can do better together. I have had the privilege of working with outstanding staff and partners who recognize that working together and creating seamless services for children, youth and families will allow us to be innovative in order to be the best community we can. I have been involved with the Children and Youth Planning Table for about 9 years and have been co-chair for the last two years. The Children and Youth Planning Table is important because I believe it is the vehicle to make change in our community. If we want to do better for our children and youth and provide them with the tools and resources to ensure they are productive members of society we need to come together and really look at how we as a community can mobilize resource to create an amazing future.
I first came to Waterloo Region at the age of two with my parents and brothers and this vibrant community has been an integral part of my life since. I earned a diploma in Early Childhood Education from Conestoga College and a degree in Social Development Studies from the University of Waterloo. I am married, and, between my husband and I, have seven wonderful adult children and two precious grand-daughters. I have worked in Early Years and Child Care for thirty-three years in many capacities including Early Childhood Educator in a lab school, instructor and field placement supervisor at Conestoga College, Manager of a special needs resourcing program at KW Habilitation and Manager of Early Years Supports at the Region of Waterloo. In February, 2017, I became the Director of Children's Services at the Region of Waterloo. Throughout my career I have been keenly interested in integrated systems level planning and the positive impacts it has on children and families. I have been involved with the Children and Youth Planning Table since its inception and have been a co-chair since becoming the Director of Children's Services. I believe the work we do at the Children and Youth Planning Table is key to moving us closer to our vision of “Happy, healthy children and youth- today and tomorrow”. When we can see ourselves as part of a big, broad system and share a common vision and foundation for practice, we can more effectively address the best interests of all children, youth and families within our community. I am deeply inspired by the membership of the Children and Youth Planning Table who share a unique and admirable quality of being able to “leave our hats at the door”, step out of our silos and work together to do the right thing for children, youth and families.