About Us

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Wood’s Homes?

We are a children’s mental health centre that provides treatment and support for children, youth and families with mental health needs. More than 600 staff and 100 volunteers work in Calgary, Lethbridge, Strathmore and Fort McMurray.

Our services range from the least intrusive to live-in treatment services. Our 40+ programs fall under six pillars, including Crisis & Counselling, Short-Term Stays, Services for Parents and Families, Live-in Treatment, Specialized Learning Centres and Opportunities for Youth.

Our continuum of services includes specialized treatment, assessments, leading-edge counselling services and education. Services are focused on early intervention and prevention, immediacy of response and family-centred, trauma-informed care. Consideration of cultural backgrounds is a key component of our treatment.

Wood’s Homes works with approximately 20,000 children, youth and families who are facing mild to severe emotional and behavioural mental health issues.

Our agency consistently exceeds requirements with Accreditation Canada, which has awarded us with Exemplary Standing three times in a row, along with two Leading Practice citations.

Our Research Department works to expand our body of knowledge and helps guide our work.  In April of 2016, we established the Wood’s Homes Research Chair in Children’s Mental Health, in partnership with the University of Calgary. 

Nationally recognized, we are seen as a knowledge, research and training organization.

Our mission: We create and provide quality mental health services that promote and restore the well-being of children and families who struggle with problems big and small.

Our vision: A world that values and nurtures the mental health of all people and when needed, ensures quality, timely help for all.

2021 marks 107 years of service.

Who started Wood’s Homes?

In 1914, Reverend George Wood, a Presbyterian Minister, said “yes” to a soldier (named Bob Porter) who asked him to care for his two children so that he could serve overseas. He pledged to look after Willie and Mary while their father went to war.

Is Wood’s Homes non-denominational? I’d heard you were once called Wood’s Christian Home.

Yes, that was the name of our organization at one time, but we have been non-denominational for the past few decades. We officially removed the word Christian from our formal name in 2007.   

Who are the principle users of Wood's Homes programs?

Calgary children, youth, young adults and their families. We also work with clients from across the country.

Where do you operate your programs?

We work on three large campuses in the Calgary communities of Bowness, Parkdale and Inglewood. We also work in several other communities across the city, and provide services in Lethbridge, Strathmore and Fort McMurray.


How many children live with you at any given time and what types of programs do you provide?

Approximately 150 young people live with us on any given day (approx. 32 on our Parkdale campus, 32 on our Bowness campus and 11 young adults at our Inglewood campus).

Our services range from the least intrusive to live-in treatment services. Our 40+ programs fall under six pillars, including Crisis & Counselling, Short-Term Stays, Services for Parents and Families, Live-in Treatment, Specialized Learning Centres and Opportunities for Youth.

What age group does Wood’s Homes work with?

The majority of the youth who live with us are 12- to 18-years-old; however, we do work with children from newborn to 24-years-old. Our U12 Program is for children under the age of 12, and our community programs work with young people from 18- to 24-years-old.

Does Wood’s Homes only work with the ‘worst of the worst’ youth?

No, that is not true, and saying that is also unfair to the children in our care. It is true that we frequently accept young people that government or other agencies are unable to manage – and that is because ‘We Never Say No. We Never Give Up. We Never Turn Anyone Away’.

Do some of the youth come with a criminal history?

Sometimes. Many of these young people are simply experiencing tough times, and they have come to us with backgrounds of abuse, neglect and trauma. The youth who live with us are not in secure treatment – they have the freedom to walk off campus, but we are still their home.

What is the size of your organization and how many people do you help every year?

We are one of the largest and oldest child and family-serving agencies in Western Canada, with 600 staff and 100 volunteers. Our average annual operating budget is $40M. Each year, we typically work with 20,000 children, youth and families (some from across Canada) and respond to about 15,000 crisis calls.

What are your primary sources of income?

We are an independent, non-profit organization. Our operating funds are drawn principally from contracts and grants with provincial governments, including ministries of Social Services, Education, Health and Human Services. Some programs use a fee-for-service model with a variety of funding sources. Any discretionary funding for new or innovative programs is raised within the community, via the Wood’s Homes Foundation. Capital funding is almost entirely raised from private and community sources.

Is Wood’s Homes financially secure?

Wood’s Homes operates on a stable financial structure. We do not operate on a financial deficit model, nor do we carry long-term debt.

How is Wood’s Homes governed?

Wood’s Homes is an independent, non-profit, community-owned and governed agency.

Wood’s Homes has three Boards of Directors:

  1. Wood’s Homes - responsible for our operations
  2. Wood’s Homes Society - responsible for our facilities, financial assets
  3. Wood’s Homes Foundation

The Boards of Directors are supported by multiple Board committees that include community advisory members with significant professional credentials and experience in the sector.

Our Chief Executive is Bjorn Johannson, MSW, who took the helm on May 1, 2020.

Does Wood’s Homes maintain reserves for difficult financial times?

We are comprised of three key elements: Wood’s Homes, Wood’s Homes Foundation and Wood’s Homes Society. A key mandate of the Foundation, which was established in 2000, is to establish and maintain reserves to ensure the short and long-term financial strength of the organization.

Does the Alberta government cover costs of youth coming from out-of-province?

No. Youth from outside Alberta are here under independent contract. Their respective governments pay for their treatment and their education costs as well.

What is the cost of treatment for young people living at Wood’s Homes?

The cost varies depending on the program or service, but it is approximately $500 per day. This amount covers all of the expenses for the youth – everything from food, shelter, clothing, education and specialized mental health treatment services. These costs are approximately 1/3 the cost of hospital-based treatment programs. 

How does Wood’s Homes measure its success?

Wood’s Homes established a Research Department in 2001 to investigate program effectiveness, and to determine the need to revise, update or terminate programs.

We have established a strong reputation for our work developing frameworks for outcome. Outcome measures include:

  • Measurement of mental health improvement and reduction in risk issues
  • Sustained quantitative evaluations while a child is in care
  • Parent/caregiver satisfaction assessments
  • Family capacity measurement and improvement

Results are reported to an Advisory Committee of professional practitioners and to the Governing Board twice a year. Successes are readily shared with the greater community.

In partnership with the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Social Work, our organization launched the Wood’s Homes Research Chair in Children’s Mental Health. This Chair is unique in Canada, as it also works directly in the community. Dr. Angelique Jenney was named the Chair in April, 2017. She came from the Child Development Institute in Toronto, where she was Director of Family Violence Services. 

There appears to be many agencies doing similar work – is this duplication of services perhaps inefficient?

It is true there is similar work being carried out, but each agency specializes in meeting different needs of the community. These specialized services fill vital gaps in the social support system. The diversity and immediate response ensures that very difficult and often complicated social needs are addressed with minimal bureaucratic delay.

How is Wood’s Homes different from Hull Services?

Some of the programs at Hull Services are referred to as secure services (confined programs). Some youth find greater success in these secure settings while others are better served on non-secure settings. We do work with Hull Services with a common goal ensuring all vulnerable youth get the best treatment possible.

What changing trends does Wood’s Homes foresee?

We know that:

  • Only one in five children who need mental health services receives treatment
  • Mental health disorders in youth are the 2nd highest hospital care expenditure in Canada
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for youth between 10 and 24 (Canada ranks third in the world for youth suicide)
  • Research shows that the earlier an intervention, the more likely a child will return to positive mental health
  • 40% of all homeless youth identify as non-heterosexual. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among LGBTQ2S youth. One of the leading causes of LGBTQ2S youth homelessness is parental rejection.
  • While Indigenous children make up 10% of the youth population in Alberta, they represent 70% of all children in care
  • A society without mental health treatment services places many struggling families at great risk with widespread consequences

Does Wood’s Homes have partnerships with other agencies and institutions?

Partnerships are vital to the success of our programs. We have informal and formal partnerships with many groups including the Calgary Board of Education, Calgary Homeless Foundation, Alberta Health Services, United Way, Association of Community Services, University of Calgary and many others. Click here for a list of our formal partnerships.

Wood’s Homes is also engaged in multiple levels of advocacy. This includes ongoing liaison will government, community groups and organizations including ALIGN, the Child Welfare League of Canada, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations and others.