About Us

Our Philosophy

Providing care on a human scale

Simply put, our belief at Kennedy House is that all individuals have the potential for change and growth. We have built our framework for rehabilitation on respect for the individual, responsible care and the power of building healthy relationships. All of our environments promote humane, appropriate behavioural interventions, as well as group and systematic approaches that are individual in content and pace and focused on family.

We’re all about bridges, not barriers. We offer a flexible intake procedure, with very few exclusion criteria. Young people in our care can expect structure and consistency, but no hierarchal levels to breach and steps to achieve. Instead, therapeutic, behavioural milieus with strong guidelines and expectations are cushioned with positive rewards for demonstrated responsibility, accountability, and advances.

Our Diversity

Respecting the cultural diversity of youth in our care

Kennedy House takes every measure to ensure commitment to programs that are compassionate and culturally competent. We recognize, value, affirm, appreciate, understand, protect and preserve different cultures, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions and faith traditions, knowing them to be integral to the youth we treat. Individual treatment plans include recognition of diversity as a means to connect with and positively affect youth in our care.

Our History

A legacy of caring

Kennedy House was established in 1971 by Ed Blazo & Doug Chin based on the initiative of a group of concerned community members with a vision for providing a new kind of care to young people. Our founders believed that it was not in imposing, impersonal institutions that care could be more effectively provided, but in small family-like residences or group homes.

As a not-for-profit organization registered in 1972 and governed since by a volunteer Board of Directors, Kennedy House continues to benefit from the foresight of its founding members, some of whom remain involved to this day.

From the beginning, several principles have been embodied in the day-to-day operation of Kennedy House:
  • We are more than willing to accept, embrace, and work with youth who have not thrived in other settings, or who may be difficult to place elsewhere.
  • We have an expedited intake process, allowing rapid access to our programs. Rather than putting up barriers, we respond quickly to the urgent needs of placing agencies.
  • We have demonstrated flexibility. The programs we offer are regularly updated as the needs of our placing agencies and residents change.
  • We employ dedicated professionals who strive to support the front line Child and Youth Workers and we fully understand that their role is central to the effective care and treatment of our residents.
  • We firmly believe in continuous training and development of Kennedy House staff, continuously providing opportunities to learn, grow, and advance.

Key to the establishment of the first Kennedy House group home was Ed Blazo, one of the founding members and a long-standing Executive Director. His vision and insight paved the way for the development of a vibrant organization, fuelled by his belief in continuing education and development, and his practical experience as a Child Care Worker. Following Ed’s untimely death in 2007 and in his honour, the Ed Blazo Memorial Lecture Series was established to pursue new educational and informative perspectives for youth service providers.

Fifty years of growth has created the present-day Kennedy House organization, incorporating five group homes in the Greater Toronto Area, each serving a unique group of young people.

Kennedy House began servicing the Youth Justice sector in 1980. We have operated secure custody programs in a number of locations. Today, we operate Kennedy House Youth Centre in Ajax, a 12-bed secure facility and a vital contributor to the care of youth in this sector. Our state-of-the-art facility was built in June 1998 and through careful planning and management, came in under its projected capital budget.

Employing more than 200 professional and support staff, we continue to seek out a team of individuals with a heart for youth and a desire to impact their lives.

Our Future Focus

What’s fixed, what’s flexible

Kennedy House will continue to grow and expand. We will continue to nimbly respond to the changing needs of our partner placing agencies. Our vision is fixed, and has never faltered. We are devoted to the principles of child and youth welfare, the integrity of healthy relationships and the importance of individual care planning.

We will try to anticipate opportunities for service, to make right decisions at the right time. And we’ll build relationships: solid, significant, life-changing ones, not as “service providers” but as “care givers” who serve in a hopeful and professional way, communicating by design and desire, positive role modeling and healthy interactions.

Governance Board – Board of Directors