Blue sky Blog

Blue sky Continues to Provide ‘Best Practice Care’

St. John`s, NL - Having been awarded CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) accreditation for another three years, Blue sky remains a leading provider of quality care to children, youth and families across Newfoundland. 

In April 2012, Blue sky voluntarily sought third party accreditation from CARF and became the first accredited Child & Youth Care Residential Program in Newfoundland. In June 2015, this accreditation was extended for an additional three years. 

“CARF accreditation has served to strengthen Blue sky’s position as a leading practice organization in the field of Child and Youth Residential Care, demonstrating that we have the checks and balances in place to ensure quality care,” says Melinda Wellsman, Director of Quality for Blue sky.
“Embracing the standards as an integral part of our policies, procedures and service delivery has led to an organization-wide commitment to continuous quality improvement in every area of our operations. We look forward to continuing and strengthening our relationships with the families and communities we serve in the years to come.”

CARF accreditation is an indication of an organization’s dedication and commitment to improving the quality of the lives of children and youth and demonstrates that services, employees and documentation clearly indicate an established pattern of practice excellence. The survey report, issued by CARF and available in full on the Blue sky website, commends Blue sky for the strong sense of teamwork within the organization and dedication to effective service delivery.

About Blue sky

Blue sky is an organization dedicated to helping children and youth.  Based in Newfoundland and Labrador, we are constantly evolving to provide specialized care services in support of children and families.
Our employees consist of 300 people working in a variety of roles throughout Newfoundland.  We have grown from humble beginnings as a care provider in "crisis" situations to the first accredited child and youth care residential program provider in the province.  At Blue sky we are proud of our people and the work they have done and continue to do to help hundreds of children and families in difficult times.

About CARF Accreditation

Founded in 1966, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) International is an independent, non-profit organization focused on advancing the quality of services you use to meet your needs for the best possible outcomes. CARF provides accreditation services worldwide at the request of health and human service providers. Whether you are seeking rehabilitation for a disability, treatment for addiction and substance abuse, home and community services, retirement living, or other health and human services, you can have confidence in your choice. Providers that meet CARF standards have demonstrated their commitment to being among the best available.


To learn more about Blue sky and our commitment to continuing to better serve our communities, please contact us at:
38 Ropewalk Lane, Suite 111
St. John's, NL A1C 5T2
Office: (709) 733-2273


Help us Celebrate National Child Day!

• Learn more. Read about November 20th - National Child Day and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

• Empower young people to use their voice. Download this youth-friendly version of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to remind our children and youth about their rights - and how they can protect the rights of others.

• Raise awareness. Use social media to start conversations about National Child Day with friends, family members or co-workers

You can find more information and ideas of how to spread the word on Unicef’s website:

As well  the Public Health website:

Today is about every child and every young person so please take a few minutes of your day to take a look at these websites and hit the ‘share’ button on Facebook & re-tweet on Twitter.

“No Child too Far” #timetobeheard


Blue sky shows measurable progress of children in care and calls on all parties to focus on the stability and success of the youth in care

November 4, 2014. - St. John’s NL - Blue sky Child Youth and Family Care (Blue sky) has been successfully providing staffed residential care homes in Newfoundland and Labrador for over ten years.  “Blue sky staff are very well trained and the C.A.R.E. model used at our group homes in Grand Falls-Windsor and elsewhere is internationally proven and working very well,” says Anne Whelan, President and CEO of Blue sky. “What is disappointing is the lack of genuine communication from the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor, a key stakeholder in ensuring that these children have every opportunity to establish a productive role in their home community.”

The C.A.R.E. model Blue sky uses is very different than models employed by predecessors, which were based on control of privileges or a points system.  Instead, we provide trauma-informed care, which requires a patient, positive approach to building relationships. Given what many of our youth have been through, it takes time for them to develop trust. Initially there may be challenges, and we accommodate by following detailed best practices, including calls to the RCMP on issues that could put a child at risk. These best practices also allow for bonds to foster between care workers and residents, ultimately leading to true sustainable rehabilitation, which the C.A.R.E. model is known for.  In our minds the real questions to be asked are:

1.  Are the youth actually causing major disturbances in the community of Grand Falls-Windsor?
2.  Are the youth making progress with Blue sky?

Trying to answer these questions by counting calls to the RCMP when 93% of the 81 calls are made by Blue sky out of concern for these children, is not a fair-minded means of evaluating.
With respect to the first question, while we have no specific information on the five calls made by Grand Falls-Windsor residents over the five-month period we have been in operation in that location, we have heard nothing that indicates these calls relate to vandalism or concerns over personal safety.

With respect to the progress being made by these young people, the improvements are measurable and are observed daily. As part of the C.A.R.E. model, Blue sky staff record over a dozen parameters related to both positive and negative behaviours.  These range from challenging incidences such as self-harm and violations of curfew (which are rarely seen by or involve the public), to positive developments such as disclosures of trust.  While confidentiality precludes disclosing more specifics, the following bar graphs are accepted means of measuring the progress of our residents.

We can tell you with certainty that progress is never easy. Every single time these children are uprooted, trust is lost and incidences of challenging behaviour increase.  We can also state with confidence that although older models may reduce phone calls, they do not work in the best interest of these children or the public over the long-term. This is not a debate over private or public operations. Whether a company is contracted by government or a public institution, we all as a community have obligations to these children. Fear and rumour mongering is no way to fulfil those obligations. We urge the public, government and media to consider the indicators we have provided here when visiting this issue. We are happy to engage with those looking to find solutions focused on stability and success of the youth in care. For downloadable PDF, please scroll to bottom.

For more information, please contact:

June Perry:  

709 682-2682
709 753-0794


Blue sky Responds to Grand Falls-Windsor: Asks Town to Reconsider

October 31, 2014. The residential care agency contracted by the government of NL to provide group homes and emergency placement homes says it had no advance notice that the Town of Grand-Falls Windsor was considering revoking its permit. “We have been making steady progress in terms of the integration of the home and the young people into the neighborhood” says Anne Whelan, Executive Director for Blue sky. “We were not expecting this reaction from the town, and will be approaching them to reconsider their decision.” The group home opened in May as part of a contract awarded under the provincial Foster Care Strategy.

Blue sky is committed to providing residential care that meets international standards and incorporates best practices in residential care and treatment. The organization has been providing staffed residential care homes for over 10 years.

In light of the recent decision made by the Town Council of Grand Falls-Windsor to withdraw Blue sky’s permit to provide care to children and youth in that community, it is important to share the facts of the situation and to correct the misinformation that has permeated the news.

81 RCMP calls – this number is misleading:

• Only five (5) calls were made from neighbouring houses
• The remaining 76 calls (93%) were initiated by Blue sky staff as part of reporting protocols required by Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS)
• For example, if a child misses a 10 pm curfew, Blue sky is required to report it to the RCMP each and every time
• Additionally, Blue sky has a zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol. If we find anything to suggest that a youth in care is in possession of such paraphernalia, we are obligated to call the RCMP
• According to the Grand Falls-Windsor Town Council, the decision to revoke the permit was based on these 81 incidents. It is incorrect and unfair that the town is insinuating it had to spend any time and resources on these calls, as these calls were not received by the Town but by the RCMP
• Blue sky has received no reports of any harm or threats to neighbours or their property. To our knowledge, statements that neighbours are fearing for their safety are unfounded
• Blue sky has no details of the calls to the RCMP from residents to be able to assess the nature of the calls or when they were made
• The number of calls to the RCMP by the previous operators is unknown but we understand they followed a restrictive, correctional model
• As a caring community we should be concerned about the progress of the youth in care, rather than focusing on the number of calls made to the RCMP, 93% of which were self-reported incidents by Blue sky

The C.A.R.E. model is a successful, relationship-based model. It requires time for this model to demonstrate long term success:

• Blue sky is nationally accredited and is operating under best practices established in partnership with Cornell University. We can state with confidence that our model is working.
• Children come into Blue sky care due to trauma, abuse and/or neglect, which often results in pain-based behaviours such as ‘acting out’, and mistrustful attitudes
• The C.A.R.E model is not based on control of privileges or a points system. Instead, we provide trauma-informed care, which requires a patient, positive approach to building relationships. This has proven to build respect and trust for community, peers and authority in youth under our care
• While the transition to the new home in GFW was not without challenges, there have been significant improvements noted, and relationships are starting to build
• Blue sky monitors various parameters to assess how the children in care are doing individually and as a group. These parameters include:
o Monitoring challenging behaviours (such as aggressive behaviours, property damage, and self-harm) and,
o Positive behaviours (such as increased disclosure which is indicative of improved trust)
• The trends we are seeing in GFW show universal improvements:
o Medication concerns are 10% of what they were in June 2014
o Aggressive behaviours and property damage have decreased by 50%
o Disclosure (the strong indicator of trust) has doubled
• To say “the model is not working” is incorrect, unjust and discredits the hard work of Blue sky staff and the efforts of these youth to rehabilitate. Youth in care need time to adjust to a proven model that gives them the best opportunity to become successful members of the community

We need improved communication channels and improved education to ensure the C.A.R.E. model continues to be successful:

• The C.A.R.E. model is inclusive and starts from the premise that children are fundamentally good and a nurturing environment is necessary for a child to thrive
• For a community to be truly inclusive, we all need to work collaboratively
• While in retrospect Blue sky has identified the need to be more proactive in its communications, the Council’s decision to revoke the permit lacks context. We are happy to provide the Council with the information it needs to make a balanced and informed decision
• In the best interest of the children, we hope GFW’s Council will begin open dialogue with Blue sky in hope of stabilizing the youth in our care

For more information, please contact:
June Perry 

709 682-2682
709 753-0794