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The Day School Milieu Treatment Program (DSMTP)

About the Service

The DSMTP has three school-age programs located at The ECC’s main site (65 Hartsdale Drive) and four classrooms in a community school in Toronto. DSMTP serves approximately 40 children per academic year. Service to children within the DSMTP is provided by a multi-disciplinary team of skilled professionals  representing a range of professional perspectives including Child and Youth Workers, TDSB Special Education Teachers, Child and Family Therapists, a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist.

Children who are in treatment in DSMTP receive individualized services  within a small group setting. Each child participates in an assessment of his/her mental health and learning needs. The multi-disciplinary staff work collaboratively with the  child, his/her family and other service providers to develop a service plan and goals for treatment. The plan and goals are based on assessments, observations and interviews and take into consideration key factors such as the child’s problems, needs, strengths and developmental levels as well as the family’s background, lifestyle, stresses, beliefs and sources of support. Plans and goals are reviewed and updated regularly.


We serve children aged 3.8-13 and their families living primarily in West Toronto. If parents have joint custody, we need to receive permission from the both custodial parents to provide service. For the DSMTP, we do not accept children with confirmed diagnoses of Global Developmental Delay or Mild Intellectual Delay.

A referral to the program must be supported by the child’s school and parent(s)/legal guardians.

Common Presenting Issues

The DSMTP helps children who are having significant mental health problems that prevent them from learning and participating in a community school. These problems may include:

  • Persistent aggression
  • Defiance
  • Opposition
  • Getting along with others
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Restlessness or an inability to focus or complete tasks

Children in the DSMTP and their families are likely to have experienced significant stress. The children may also have other problems such as learning disabilities, trauma, or family issues that affect the child’s ability to manage. Some parents feel they are in frequent conflict with their child, family members, child’s school, or other providers or authorities. These conflicts may get in the way of parents' ability to have a strong relationship with their child and to advocate effectively on their child's behalf. Children's progress in the DSMTP is closely linked to parental engagement and involvement in the program, family counselling and parent skill building.

Family participation in counselling is key the child's success while in the program as well as to make an effective transition both into and out of the program to a community school. The child and family are part of the treatment team and The ECC encourages their participation. The treatment team keeps close contact with parents/legal guardians in order to maintain good communication as well as ensure that there is a continuity of approach between home and school. 

While the focus of the program is to address the mental health concerns, TDSB teachers also work with the child on their academics so children continue to develop in this area. TDSB are part of The ECC team working together on behalf of and to support the child.

The Etobicoke Children’s Centre promotes the use of Evidence Based Practices (EBP) or Evidence Informed Practices (EIP) to ensure that services are effective, ethical, and client and strength focused. These include: Collaborative Problem Solving, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Zones of Regulation, Neuro-Sequential Model, Mindfulness Stress Based Reduction, Fun Friends, and Friends for Life. The DSMTP treatment/service plans identify methods that are specific to the needs of each child. These needs may include those related to attachment, trauma and developmental domains.

Typical Timeline

To make a referral to the DSMTP, a parent or legal guardian may call our Intake Coordinator. If your family is already involved with The ECC, you may speak to your Service Coordinator about making a referral to the DSMTP. Referral information that you and your child’s school provide will help determine eligibility for the DSMTP. Children who are eligible are placed on a waitlist for assessment. Acceptance to the program is based on an assessment of your child’s needs and their fit with the program. These decisions are generally made in the spring. If your child is accepted, treatment usually begins in the fall, in accordance with the start of the academic year.

Treatment length varies, but generally occurs for an academic year.  

After your child is discharged, the DSMTP team will provide support to help ensure that their transition to a community school is successful.

Possible Risks and Benefits

Possible Benefits:

  • Children are better able to understand their feelings, manage their behaviour, cooperate, problem solve, and get along with others.
  • Children are better able to achieve their learning potential.
  • Specialized assessments help to identify strategies and resources that help children experience increased success.
  • Parents develop more effective parenting and discipline methods.
  • Additional resources/ideas are made available.
  • Parents develop improved advocacy skills on behalf of their children.

Possible Risks:

  • As difficult issues get addressed, behaviour may get worse.
  • The change process may feel like it is too difficult, takes too much time, or is not enough.
  • There may be feelings of blame, shame, embarrassment or exposure.
  • The commitment to participate consistently in treatment may feel like it is not worth the effort.
  • Recommendations may include ideas or strategies that are uncomfortable or not agreeable (e.g. the uses of psychopharmacology, manual restraints, change in discipline methods, etc).
  • Child Welfare may need to become involved if there is suspected abuse.



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The Etobicoke Children’s Centre

65 Hartsdale Drive,
Etobicoke, ON M9R 2S8

200 Ronson Dr., (4th floor)
Etobicoke, ON M9W 5Z9

Tel: (416) 240-1111
Fax: (416) 240-7999
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