Skip to main content

Information for Community-based Organizations

What is Integrated Youth Services?

Integrated Youth Services (IYS) is a national and international movement that is transforming how youth access key services and supports.

Each IYS site provides a range of high-quality services for youth (ages 12 to 25) and their caregivers, all in one location. Services include, but are not limited to: 

  • Walk-in access to mental health and substance use supports, for youth and their caregivers.
  • Ongoing support and navigation services, both virtual and in person, based on individual youth and caregiver needs.
  • Group programming and activities.
  • A suite of services provided by various organizations, agencies, and government programs. The IYS-Nova Scotia Provincial Leadership Team will enter into province-wide partnerships with various service providers to deliver coordinated and integrated services at each IYS site.  

Each IYS site is made possible through a partnership of 4 or more local agencies (callled an "IYS coalition") who commit to providing services together.

Across Canada, IYS initiatives follow a set of common principles, including:

  • Being accessible, evidence-informed, inclusive of all youth and caregivers, and culturally safe.
  • Involving youth and caregivers in the design, implementation, evaluation, and ongoing improvement of services. 
  • A commitment to collaboration, service integration, and equity. 


What’s the plan for IYS in Nova Scotia?

  • The Nova Scotia government has committed to funding eight IYS sites across the province (two per health zone). The location of these sites, and who operates them, hasn’t been determined. Locations will be based on a combination of local need and community capacity/readiness to host an IYS site. The location of all eight sites will be determined this year (2023), via a fair and transparent public procurement process.
  • For each IYS-NS site, a “Lead Agency” must step forward and take responsibility for administering the IYS contract, employing the core site staff, and overseeing the day-to-day operations. A successful Lead Agency must partner with a minimum of 3 other community-based organizations (“Partner Agencies”). 
  • Each Lead Agency, together with its Partner Agencies must submit a joint application through IWK procurement. The procurement process will open early August (date TBC).
  • Once each IYS-NS site is operational, they will have a small team of core site staff, funded by IYS-NS. Staff from the Lead Agency, Partner Agencies, and other service providers will also offer services and/or programming onsite, creating a true "one-stop-shop" for youth!


Who can host an IYS site? 

IYS coalitions can apply to host an IYS site.  

An IYS coalition is a group of 4 or more Nova Scotia community-based organizations who will come together in 2023 and commit to collaboratively operating an IYS site.  

Each IYS coalition is made up of one Lead Agency and three or more Partner Agencies, who must commit to the following: 

  • Collaborate with the IWK leadership team to support successful IYS in their community
  • Contributing organizational resources to IYS (such as Board and management time).
  • Embracing and promoting the principles of Integrated Youth Services.
  • Championing the transformation of youth services in your local area.
  • Taking part in all aspects of IYS-NS, such as the use of a common name ("brand"), research and evaluation, integrated services delivery, and staff training.
  • Contributing to your IYS application. 
  • Leading the collaborative development, operation, and evaluation an IYS-NS site, in concert with partner agencies and the Provincial Lead Team.
  • Employing the core IYS staff.
  • Responsibly administering all finances involved with hosting an IYS site with fiscal accountabilities to IWK.
  • Collaborating with the lead agency, other partner agencies, and the Provincial Lead Team, on an ongoing basis, to develop, operate, evaluate an IYS-NS site.
  • Offering one or more (new or existing) services at the IYS site, on an ongoing basis. 



How Is Integrated Youth Services Different?

"IYS seems similar to something that’s already offered in my community. How is it different?"

Other programs do have similarities to IYS. For example, many non-profit organizations are leaders in collaboration, and some Nova Scotia communities have youth drop-in services. However, some features of IYS are different from most existing services; the combined effect of these features is what makes IYS different. 

IYS provides walk-in access to mental health and substance use services, for youth and their families. This includes:

  • Assessment of needs, risks, and goals
  • Support and education
  • Collaborative planning to meet needs
  • Help accessing relevant services and supports, both within IYS and with collaborating partners. Often this includes navigation; it may also include going to appointments with a young person.  


IYS sites are connected to the mental health care system. 

  • This provides more seamless access for youth.  


IYS is a true partnership model.

  • Four or more organizations will form a coalition and work together to make their IYS site a success. 
  • This coalition will also work with their local network and the IYS Provincial Leadership Team, to grow both the services and community support for their IYS site. 
  • Across Canada, communities have developed a strong sense of ownership of their IYS sites; we’re aiming for the same here in Nova Scotia! 


IYS has a mandate to integrate services, so that youth & caregivers can seamlessly access services from multiple organizations, all in one location.

  • IYS services are provided by a team of people who work for different agencies. Everyone works together to provide youth & families with coordinated access to a range of services.   
  • The IYS-NS Provincial Leadership Team and local IYS coalitions will also integrate their service in other ways, in order to better serve youth and their families.  Examples include aligning policies, implementing collaborative case management, and developing information-sharing agreements.  


Youth and family engagement are key components of IYS.

  • Youth and their caregivers will help shape the direction of each IYS site.
  • Youth and caregivers from the various IYS sites will help shape IYS-NS, through involvement in the provincial IYS Youth Advisory Committee and Caregiver Advisory Committee.


IYS-NS is part of a vibrant national and international movement. 

Benefits include: 

  • Mentoring, training, and support for staff, youth and caregivers.
  • Being part of a dynamic, research-based "learning health system", whereby data collection and measurement-based care paves the way for ongoing service improvements. 


IYS-NS sites also have an obligation to:

  • Adopt and model the pan-Canadian principles of Integrated Youth Services.
  • Collect and contribute data to research initiatives, such as the IYS pan-Canadian learning health system.         

IYS serves all youth ages 12 to 25 and their families/caregivers. 

  • Many programs and services serve either adolescents or young adults, but not both.  


IYS sites and co-designed and created by all stakeholders.

  • Services are co-designed by all stakeholders – coalition members, staff, youth & caregivers, and the broader communities and IYS governing bodies.
  • The goal is to foster and enhance a dynamic set of evolving services that change and adapt over time according to youth, caregiver, and community needs. 


In summary, IYS is based on collaborative partnerships, service integration, a commitment to continuous quality improvement, and intentional youth/caregiver input in the design and implementation of services. These features will allow us to create accessible, user-friendly services that address pressing local needs, help youth to be well and stay well, and strengthen the health and resilience of families & communities.



Guiding Principles

IYS-NS will follow the draft principles adopted by the Pan-Canadian Federation of Integrated Youth Services Networks (FIYSN), which are as follows: 

  1. Engaging: We engage youth (ages 12 to 25) and their families/caregivers in decision-making, including service development, co-design, and evaluation.
  2. Collaborative: Services are delivered seamlessly through effective partnerships, co-location, and the integration of services across disciplines, organizations, and sectors.
  3. Accessible: Services are easy to find and access, have low or no barriers, and are truly welcoming to youth, families, and caregivers. 
  4. Youth-centred: Services are youth-friendly, developmentally appropriate, strengths- and relationship-based, and inclusive of all youth.
  5. Responsive: Services are responsive to stated needs, and respectful of choice/self-determination.
  6. Culturally safe: Services are culturally safe, recognize intersectionality, and are able to meaningfully support Indigenous youth.
  7. Socially just: We commit to social justice through anti-oppressive, anti-racist, and decolonizing practices. We work to reduce stigma associated with mental illness and addictions.
  8. Wholistic: We take a wholistic, trauma-informed and harm reduction approach.
  9. Health: We intervene early, and we promote health and health equity.
  10. Learn and improve: We continually learn and improve through the use of data, research, evidence and wisdom.



  • Contact

    Integrated Youth Services (IYS) Nova Scotia