Skip to main content

Integrated Youth Services (IYS) Nova Scotia

What is Integrated Youth Services? 

Integrated Youth Services (IYS) a safe place for youth to get support for mental health issues, addictions, and other needs. 

IYS makes services easy to access:

  • No appointment is required. Youth can walk into an IYS site and ask for help; someone will meet with them that day.
  • There are no fees.
  • Several community organizations offer services at each IYS site. No need to travel to get to different services!
  • Most IYS sites are open evenings and/or weekends. 

 Other key features of IYS:

  • IYS sites are located in communities, close to where many young people live.
  • IYS sites provide services and support early on. This ensures that situations don't get worse.  
  • IYS sites offer a range of programs and activities that meet youth & family needs. Examples include social groups, peer support groups, and life skills programs.
  • Youth and their caregivers are included in all aspects of IYS. One example is giving input into the design of a new IYS space.  
  • IYS serves youth from age 12 to age 25. This gives youth time to transition to adult services. 

IYS helps youth be healthy – and stay healthy!


What’s the goal of IYS-NS? 

The goal of IYS is to connect youth and their caregivers with the right services, at the right time, close to home.

"I can say it changed my life completely."
"Je peux dire que ca changer ma vie completement."
— Alexandra (ACCESS Open Minds client, New Brunswick)

What does “integrated services” mean?

It means different organizations offer services in the same location. Everyone works together to make the services accessible and responsive.  


What happens at an Integrated Youth Services site? 

An IYS site is a ‘one-stop shop.’ Youth and their families can access a range of services and supports. The services are tailored to youth needs. Some IYS sites also offer virtual services.

In Nova Scotia, IYS sites will provide: 

  • support for addiction and mental health issues; 
  • support related to employment, training, and education;
  • youth and family peer support programs; 
  • recreational and life skills programs;
  • other services based on local needs and priorities. 

Who will lead IYS in Nova Scotia? 

Across Canada, each province has an IYS backbone organization. The backbone organization provides guidance and support for IYS sites in that province. In Nova Scotia, IWK Health is the backbone organization. The IWK will guide and support the following: 

  • Planning and operating IYS sites in Nova Scotia. 
  • Helping all sites stay true to the IYS vision and principles. This will ensure high-quality services that meet youth and family needs.  
  • Partnering with government departments, community organizations, and other stakeholders.   
  • Doing research and evaluation on IYS-NS services. 


What will IYS look like in Nova Scotia? 

Key components will be: 

Services that are supportive, respectful, and culturally safe: 

  • At IYS, all youth and families will feel welcome, safe, and supported.


Collaboration and community partnerships: 

  • A local IYS network will operate each site. Each IYS network will be made up of four or more agencies. 
  • Each IYS network will name a Lead Agency. The Lead Agency will employ the core IYS staff members and manage the IYS site.
  • The other members of the network will be called Partner Agencies. Partner Agencies will be involved in several ways. For example, each Partner Agency will assign one or more staff to provide services at the IYS site.
  • All these service providers will integrate their services. This will make it quicker and easier for youth to access services.


 Co-designing services with youth and caregivers: 

  • At each IYS site, two advisory committees will give input on services, programs, and policies.  
  • The two committees will be the Youth Advisory Committee and the Family/Caregiver Advisory Committee. 
  • There will also be two province-wide committees, one for youth and one for caregivers. These will get up and running first, before any of the site-based committees. To  receive more information on these committees, click here.


Quality, evidence-based services: 

  •  IYS sites keep track of the services offered and how effective they are.
  •  This information helps staff know what’s working well, and what needs to change.  
  •  The research and evaluation carried out in Nova Scotia will be part of the IYS Pan-Canadian Learning Health System.  


How many IYS sites will there be in Nova Scotia? 

The Nova Scotia government has committed to funding eight IYS sites across the province. The plan is to have two per health zone (Western, Central, Northern & Eastern). 

All sites will be selected and announced in 2023. Two IYS sites will be opened in Year 1 (2023-24 fiscal year).  We expect that two new IYS-NS sites will open each year, from 2024 to 2027.  By 2027, it is hoped that all 8 sites will be up and running!


How will local networks be selected to operate the IYS-NS sites? 

IWK Health is currently finalizing the procurement process to select which local IYS networks will operate a site.  Check back here for updates!  

When the process is finalized, we will email the details to over 400 non-profit organizations across the province. We also encourage interested community organizations to register.


How will IYS-NS be funded?  

  • The Nova Scotia government will fund IYS sites across the province. 
  • IYS Nova Scotia will also be supported by charitable foundations and other partners.

For more information about Integrated Youth Services


Did you know?

IYS is a national and international movement. It started in Australia, and today there are IYS programs in several countries, including:

Australia:  Headspace
Ireland:  Jigsaw


From 2013 to 2020, 17 ACCESS Open Minds sites were funded across Canada. These sites were studied extensively, to identify effective practices, challenges, and solutions. The learnings from ACCESS Open Minds are informing the IYS movement today. 



  • Contact

    Integrated Youth Services (IYS) Nova Scotia