CBU Prof contributing to youth development framework

Michelle JethaMichelle Jetha, Assistant Professor of Psychology, has been working with the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services to synthesize, summarize and translate up-to-date research on middle years children, all for the purpose of developing a strategic framework for youth in Ontario.

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services focuses on working with government and community partners to develop and implement policies, programs and a service system that helps to give children the best possible start in life in Ontario. The strategic framework that is currently being developed will support the developmental, emotional and behavioural needs of children ages six to 11, and will guide the development and delivery of high quality supports and services for youth across Ontario. Michelle’s continuing work with Ministry has involved writing research reports, participating in think-tanks, panel discussions, and workshops to inform the development of this framework.

Over the past few years, Michelle has been invited to work on several different projects with the Ontario Ministry of Child and Youth Services. Some of her previous work has contributed to the development of Stepping Stones, an evidence-based guide for governments, communities and other service providers who are working with adolescents and young adults.

“Working on these frameworks has been important to me, because I have been able to be directly involved with the practical applications of research, specifically with research in the area of developmental social neuroscience,” says Michelle. “The process requires thinking about research in a very different way than how I was trained to think about it in graduate school. In graduate school, my studies focused on the critical evaluation of theoretical frameworks and conducting research in psychology, behaviour and neuroscience. The Ministry work has broadened and deepened my understanding the impact that research has on government policies in general and on youth policies in particular.”

This past November Michelle was invited to participate in the Ontario Ministry of Child and Youth Services think-tank in Toronto. The audience consisted of researchers in the area of child development, directors of youth organizations, and individuals from other Ministries, such as the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education.

“I was asked to speak on both panels to discuss the impact of stress on brain development and behaviour and on aspects of social and emotional development during middle childhood,” says Michelle. “The interactive workshops that followed the panels were dedicated to using the information presented to develop best practices for Ontario youth and to develop an evidenced-based framework for professionals working with children ages six to 11 years of age.”

Michelle has published 12 pieces in the area of social neuroscience, which includes journal articles, a chapter, a review and a book on adolescent brain development with an emphasis on social neuroscience. She hopes to continue to work with the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services on future frameworks throughout her career. “Working on the frameworks for youth development in Ontario has definitely been something that stands out in my career,” says Michelle. “In the future, I also hope to work with the Nova Scotia government on such initiatives.”