Founded in 1994, the Continuum of Services for Adolescents Who Have Sexually Offended (The Continuum) grew out of a small group of clinicians in Toronto who met to discuss and coordinate their work with youth who sexually offend. This group shared a commitment to providing effective treatment to these youth in order to reduce recidivism and thereby reduce further victimization. With the move to a more formal network came the inclusion of a much wider range of professional groups and service providers, including probation, residential and day treatment programs, children’s mental health centres, child welfare agencies, the police, the judiciary, lawyers and Crown Attorneys. As the name suggests, the intention was to support and coordinate the work of this ‘continuum’ of services and people who become involved with these youth, from the first point of contact to their transitioning from treatment.
For several years, beginning in the late 1990’s, The Continuum’s Steering Committee created a Legal Issue Sub-Committee to identify legislative and procedural barriers in the youth justice, child welfare and treatment systems. Finally, The Continuum has, throughout its existence, been a persistent conduit for advocacy for the treatment needs of this population and the resource needs of those who share our commitment to reducing sexual violence. Still true to its origins, The Continuum continues to be a coalition of agencies and individuals committed to reducing sexual offence recidivism and protecting the community. We still receive no outside funding, so we depend on our members to carry out and support the work of the Continuum. Our strength and dynamism comes from the individuals and organizations that make up The Continuum.
Since 1994, The Continuum has endeavoured to provide leadership in this field. Our annual conference has provided up-to-date training on a variety of topics related to the assessment and treatment of youth who have sexually offended, and other clinically relevant topics such as the Youth Criminal Justice Act and adolescent brain development. Through a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in the late 1990’s, The Continuum initiated a research project designed to measure the efficacy of comprehensive treatment and to inform the development of best practice standards. This project later became the foundation for a long-term national research project.