Families in Transition (FIT) supports the well-being of children who are experiencing significant change brought on by separation/divorce of parents. Our professional staff works with families to find solutions, explore options using a variety of tools and approaches that promote the emotional well-being of children and their parents.

Fit provides service to families who live and/or work in Toronto.

At FIT we offer:

Specialized services for separating, divorcing and blended families

  • Individual one-on-one counselling for children or parents
  • Parent/child counselling
  • Family counselling
  • Co-parenting counselling and support
  • Support for blended families e.g. re-partnering

Groups

  • Parent group: 6-session support group for parents
  • Coming soon: Skills-based group for fathers

Workshops

  • Co-parenting: how to effectively co-parent
  • Parenting 101: how to be an effective parent

Languages

Staff can provide service in Farsi, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Tagalog and English.  When you call for an appointment, please let us know about your language requirements at intake.

Criteria to access service at FIT

To access our services you, the parent, must  experience at least one of the following:

  • be separating or separated from the other parent
  • are in conflict with or have a challenging relationship with the other parent
  • have adjustment issues related to separation
  • have challenges in in your relationship with child(ren) after the separation
  • need knowledge/help on how to parent child(ren) in context of parental separation
  • have a new partner and you, your partner and children are having challenges with transition

Your child(ren) must experience at least one of the following:

  • difficulty adjusting to parental separation (or you anticipate that the child will have challenges adjusting to their changing family situation)
  • negative impact caused by the parental separation e.g. exposure to parental conflict, alignment with only one parent or estrangement from parent

How to access service at FIT

  1. Call our Service Access Unit at 416-595-9618 to register for a First Steps session
  2. Attend First Steps session
  3. Undergo the mandatory assessment at the completion of First Steps

First Steps orientation session

First Steps is your first step into FIT and it is compulsory for anyone who wants to receive service from FIT.

First Steps is a 60 – 90 min session shared by up to 12 parents and led by a FIT counselor. Our goals for this session are for you to gain accurate and detailed information about FIT services and help you determine if they are right for you and your family.  No children attend First Steps.

First Step sessions occur four times per month. We offer morning, afternoon and evening options.
Location: 355 Church Street, Toronto, M5B 0B2
Fee: $20.00 for this appointment (Fee reductions available based on need)
Payment options: Credit cards accepted by telephone. Cash and debit card payments can only be made in person.
Registration: Call our Service Access Unit at 416-595-9618 to register for your FIRST STEPS session.

Fees

There are fees for all services at Families in Transition and fees are based on a sliding scale to ensure that persons with all income levels can access our programs. Please go to “Services” tab at the top of the page to see the description of services offered and their corresponding fees.

For appointments, registration and information contact our Service Access Unit at 416 595 9618.

Specialized services for separating, divorcing and blended families

Individual, child/parent and family counselling

Counselling services are goal-directed and time limited and include: one-on-one counselling for children or parents; parent/child counselling and family counselling.

Counselling focuses on issues such as reducing parent conflict, creating co-parenting relationships, supporting a child’s grief process, dealing with parent’s anger, sadness, and grief, fostering healthy child-parent relationships, focusing on creating a positive way forward after separation or divorce.

Staff will work with you to create a mutually agreed upon plan to address the issues that you bring to counselling.

Fees for the individual sessions are $120/session (sliding scale offered to ensure that persons with all income levels can access our programs). Family counselling fees are determined according to family size and income.

Co-parenting support and counselling

This is a specific intervention geared towards helping separated or divorced parents develop positive co-parenting strategies that enhance the physical, emotional and social well- being of children. The mandatory criterion is that parents must be open to and ready to work together. At FIT we strongly believe that parents, even those in high conflict separation and divorce, can learn how to develop a positive co-parent relationship that can help children transition from the concept of one home to two homes and eliminate or reduce a child’s exposure to harmful parental conflict.

Support for blended families e.g. re-partnering

This service is intended for parents who are re-partnering after separation or divorce and who want support in finding positive ways to help their children adjust to a new family unit. This process may include new partners, former partners and/or children.

Groups

Parent Group

Parenting after Separation: Meeting the Challenges

In this six-week program, parents meet once a week and discuss parenting post separation. Participants learn practical strategies for supporting their children to manage the challenges of parental separation and divorce.

Topics include:

  • Strategies for supporting children’s adjustment to parental separation
  • Practical ways parents can minimize conflict with former partners
  • Helping children cope with loss, anger, and disappointment
  • How to strengthen parent/child relationships when parents have separated

Location: 355 Church St.
Group days/dates: Tuesdays; Jan. 8 to Feb. 12; May 7 to June 17; July 9 to August 13; October 1 to November 5, 2019.
Fees: $210.00 ($35/session). Fee reductions are available based on need.
Registration is completed via your counsellor.

Coming soon: Skills-based group for fathers

A group for fathers who are parenting alone for the first time or who would like to enhance their parenting skills.

Location: 355 Church St.
Group days/dates: Group starting in 2019. Dates to be announced.
Fees: $35/session; number of sessions to be determined
Registration is completed via your counsellor.

Workshops

Parenting 101

Enhancing parenting skills and knowledge. Workshop for parents with children age 4 to adolescence.

Location: 355 Church St.
Dates: Parenting 101 will start in January 2019. Jan. 17, Feb. 7, Mar. 4, Apr. 18, May 8, Jun. 18
Fee: $40 for a 2 hr session
Registration is completed via your counsellor.

Co-parenting

How to effectively parent children with an ex-partner in a moderate to high conflict situation.

Location: 355 Church St.
Dates: Co-Parenting will start in January 2019. Jan 8, Feb. 4, Mar. 6, Apr. 4, May 7, Jun. 4
Fee: $40 for a 2 hr session
Registration is completed via your counsellor.

Other  information

  • Pre-registration ensures you are accommodated
  • Certificate of completion will be offered for all groups and workshops
  • Staff have post-graduate training and are experienced counsellors
  • Location is wheelchair accessible
  • We are committed to an equity inclusion approach to service delivery

How does FIT help changing families?

FIT services are designed to help children adjust to parental separation, divorce, and remarriage. Programming focuses on the issues that have significant impact on children whose parents live apart. These include:

  • Reducing parent conflict
  • Building effective parenting partnerships
  • Supporting children’s grieving
  • Developing strong parent-child relationships
  • Successful step-parenting

Who should come to FIT?

Any member of a separating, divorcing, or blended family can benefit from FIT services. They are available to people living or working in Toronto. Services are provided in English, French, Tagalog and Spanish.

Do we need to be living apart before I call FIT?

No. Research demonstrates that early support is important in helping parents plan how to care for children when they no longer live together. Parents who are already living apart learn about ways to help children adjust to the changing family circumstances.

We already have lawyers, can FIT still be helpful?

FIT is a voluntary non-profit social service agency. We are not connected to the courts. Our services supplement assistance you may be receiving from lawyers or the court. We do not get involved in court proceedings. When you first see us, we will ask you to sign a document that you understand and agree to this.

Can I contact FIT directly?

Yes, the voluntary nature of our service means that parents must call us to request service. We will not accept referrals on behalf of a client from other third parties such as lawyers, the courts, other services providers.

Do both parents have to be involved?

Yes, when working with children we need consent from both parents. We can help children more when both parents work with us. We will talk with you about how we might involve the other parent because research demonstrates that interventions are more effective when both parents work with us. If one parent is unavailable, we will continue to help the parent who calls us.

What age of children does FIT serve?

We usually provide direct service for children 4 to 18 years. Youth 12 years and older may request service on their own.

We are in court litigating. Can I still come to FIT?

Yes, you can still come to FIT even if you are in court litigating.

Will FIT provide a report to the court about the work I do at FIT?

We do not provide reports to the court, even if you are attending FIT at the direction of the court. If you require such a report, you will need to  seek service elsewhere. In order for children and parents to trust that we will remain neutral and unbiased, we do not provide reports for court or other organizations your family may be involved with.

How do you know FIT programs are effective?

FIT conducted two major research studies that document the effectiveness of our services. Our most recent study demonstrated that positive outcomes for children are more likely when:

  • They have an opportunity to grieve the loss they experience when parents part
  • Mothers and fathers learn specific strategies for supporting children
  • Help is available early in the separation process
  • Parenting partnerships are characterized by effective communication and conflict resolution.

Are FIT services confidential?

Yes. Your written permission is required for us to exchange information with any other person, except in specific circumstances where we are legally required to break confidentiality.

Does FIT determine fitness to parent and parenting capacity?

No, this is not part of the services provided by FIT staff. If you are searching for this service, you will need to contact a private practitioner who does this type of work.

How long will I wait for service?

Group programs are scheduled throughout the year. It is important to check our website on a frequent basis. There may be a wait for an individual appointment.

Are there fees for service?

Yes, we charge a fee for or services. Fees are determined according to your income and family size. Many of our group programs have set fees. Individual and family counseling is based on an hourly fee. We are able to reduce our fees below your assessed fee when need is demonstrated. Private insurance through your employer or another group plan may cover some or all of our fees.

Where is the FIT office?

We are located at 355 Church Street, just North of Gerard St. and South of Carlton St.  The College Park subway station is 5 min away. Parking is not available at this location. Group programs operate from this central location. With advance notice, many of our educational programs can be offered from other locations in the community. Contact the FIT office at 416 595 9618 to discuss specific requests to provide programs elsewhere in the community.

Online Divorce Related Links

The following list outlines websites that contain publications of interest for separating, divorcing, and blending families. Examples of publications from each website are noted in bullets. Please access websites for full publication listings.

  • Family Law Publications, including:
    • What Happens Next? Information for kids About Separation and Divorce
    • Making plans: A guide to parenting arrangements after separation or divorce
    • The Federal Child Support Guidelines: Step-by-Step
  • Dispute Prevention and Resolution Publications, including:
    • Resolving Disputes – Think About Your Options
  • Divorce and Separation Publications, including:
    • What You Should Know about Family Law in Ontario (available in 9 languages)
    • Getting Divorced (Community Legal Education Ontario)
    • Family Law Information Program (Legal Aid Ontario)
    • Where do I stand? A child’s guide to separation and divorce
  • Community Legal Education Ontario Publications, including:
    • An Introduction to Family Law in Ontario
    • Separation and Divorce: Child Custody, Access, and Parenting Plans
    • Separation and Divorce: Child Support
  • Family Law Education for Women Publications, including:
    • Alternative Dispute Resolution
    • Child Custody and Access
    • Child Protection and Family Law
    • How Property is Divided in Family Law
  • Support Payments 2015
    • Tax rules for spousal support or child support payments made and received under a court order or written agreement
  • Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development Bulletins or Other Publications, including:
    • Volume 6, No. 1 – March 2007 – The most important thing parents do.
    • Responding to Children’s Needs: Important Developmental Milestones in Young Children

Relevant Family Law Legislation and Reports

Government of Canada

  • Best Interests of the Child Standard – Proposed Federal Divorce Act Factor List Bill c-245, 37th parliament, second session
  • For the Sake of the Children – Report of the Special Joint Parliamentary Committee on Child Custody and Access, December 1998
  • Custody, Access and Child Support in Canada – Report on Federal-Provincial-Territorial Consultations, Fall 2001
  • Bill-C-22 An Act to Amend the Divorce Act – 1st Reading December 2002; 2nd Reading February 2003

Department of Justice

  • Divorce Act
  • Government of Canada’s Response to the Report of the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access, May 1999
  • Custody, Access and Child Support in Canada – Report on Federal-Provincial-Territorial Consultations, Fall 2001
  • Report on Youth Consultations – Appendix A in Report on Federal-Provincial-Territorial Consultations, Fall 2001
  • Minister of Justice’s report to parliament Children Come First; April 29, 2002
  • A Child-Centred Family Justice Strategy, Department of Justice Press Release, December 2002
    Final Federal-Provincial-Territorial Report on Child Custody and Access and Child Support, November 2002

Government of Ontario

  • Children’s Law Reform Act
  • Child and Family Services Act
  • Family Law Act

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