Healing Through Relationships – Responding to Mothers and Young Children Disproportionately Affected by COVID-19

Canadian Mothercraft Society

Healing Through Relationships – Responding to Mothers and Young Children Disproportionately Affected by COVID-19

Healing Through Relationships will enhance mental health outcomes for mothers experiencing trauma and their young children (0-6 years) by offering both instrumental support and a focused parenting intervention in Toronto. Using a wrap-around community-based model, this project will decrease COVID-related isolation and provide in-person access to a broad range of health and social services situated together at one location. In addition, Healing Through Relationships will offer an 8-week parenting intervention to improve the relationship capacity of mothers, promote secure attachment, and reduce risk factors for mental health problems in infants and young children throughout the lifespan. 

Lead organization: Canadian Mothercraft Society

Enhancing maternal mental health and preventing children’s mental health problems


Mothers of young children experiencing trauma and their children aged 0-6 years.



  • Decrease COVID-related isolation
  • Increase in-person access to health and social services
  • Improve the relationship capacity of mothers to promote secure attachment and reduce mental health risk factors for their children


Healing Through Relationships will be delivered in the context of Mothercraft’s Breaking the Cycle program:

  • Provide in-person social, health, and mental health services located at a single site through a wide range of cross-sectoral partners (e.g., addiction counselling, public health programs, an interpersonal violence group intervention, early childhood intervention services, a developmental clinic and FASD assessment/diagnostic clinic, probation and parole services)
  • Deliver and evaluate Circle of Security program-an 8-week attachment-based parenting intervention
  • Provide instrumental support e.g., taxi chits for travel, food vouchers, on-site meals and food bank



  • Community

Implementation sites

  • Toronto, Ontario


The COVID- 19 pandemic:

  • Introduced stressors that significantly exacerbated existing maternal mental health problems, including substance use and relapse), interpersonal violence, transience/housing instability, food and income insecurity, lack of social support
  • Decreased access to in-person health and social services
  • Increased isolation


In the words of the project team members

“The impetus for the Healing Through Relationships project was our desire to reengage families, mothers and young children who attend our Breaking The Cycle program in Toronto, in in-person services where they can access the social determinants of health and also access a group mental health intervention for mothers that that can respond to some of the increased stresses, that they endured during the course of the pandemic.”

Key protective factors

  • Parenting skills
  • Nurturing and attachment
  • Positive early life experiences
  • Access to health and support services
  • Positive community social and built environment

Key approaches

  • Trauma-based
  • Single-access service delivery
  • Wrap-around model of care


Public Health Agency of Canada news release