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A story of resilience and innovation

Picture of original staff and children of the orphanage

In 1858, following a devastating fire, five young women from the village of St. Agatha helped Father Eugene Funcken care for eight children who were left homeless.  The orphanage came to be in an abandoned log tavern.  In 1868, on land donated by Nicolaus Dietrich, a more permanent building was built next to the church.

Thirteen years later, the School Sisters of Notre Dame took over from Father Funcken, bringing their mission of transforming the world through education, one child at a time.

The sisters imagined a better future for the children they served. Facing many hardships, they often called upon their reserves of resilience and innovation. Nothing would deter them from living their founder’s motto: “trust and dare”.

In 1966, a newly constructed Children’s Village became a non-denominational residential treatment centre for children with emotional disturbances. Funding was primarily through the Catholic community and charitable donations.

Administration Building 2012Notre Dame of St. Agatha Inc. was designated a children’s mental health centre in 1987 with funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

In June 2000, Notre Dame of St. Agatha Inc. expanded the programs and services offered to children and families, took on a bold new look formally adopting an entrepreneurial business approach, and the operating name kidsLINK.

kidsLINK continues to innovate and reach out, inspired by a love for children and the enduring belief and legacy of the School Sisters of Notre Dame that children’s lives – and the world – can be transformed through love and education.


In June 2008, kidsLINK celebrated its 150th anniversary. See our historic brochure here.


Chapel and School Cherry picking time
Laundry and powerhouse New Sunporch
New Sunporch - south side Orphanage  Garage




Father Eugene Funcken founds the Orphanage in St. Agatha


Community builds new Orphanage constructed on nine acres of land donated by Nicolaus Dietrich


Father Funcken travels to Milwaukee to ask the School Sisters of Notre Dame to take charge of the Orphanage


Newly enlarged Orphanage opens


Orphanage renamed Notre Dame of St. Agatha


Notre Dame of St. Agatha Inc. incorporates under the Province of Ontario


Newly constructed Children’s Village replaces 19th century surroundings. The Village consists of four cottages and an administration building


School Sisters celebrate centennial of their arrival


First layperson hired as executive director of Notre Dame of St. Agatha Inc.


Notre Dame of St. Agatha Inc. licensed as a Children’s Mental Health Centre


Notre Dame of St. Agatha Inc. begins offering community-based care and early intervention with the start of Preschool Support Services


Farewell tea for the last sisters on staff to leave Notre Dame of St. Agatha Inc.


Early Identification Early Intervention Program launches


Notre Dame of St. Agatha Inc. publishes first edition of Child & Family Journal (now Child & Family Professional)


Notre Dame of St. Agatha Inc. receives its first full accreditation by the Ontario Association of Children’s Mental Health Centres







Notre Dame of St. Agatha Inc. announces a progressive and bold agenda for the future, launches a new look and operational name…”kidsLINK” at its new Discovery Centre for Parents


The Caroline Respite Centre opens


The Children’s Mental Health Access Centre opens as a joint initiative between kidsLINK and Lutherwood-CODA


kidsLINK sells first intensive residential services to Children’s Aid Societies on a fee basis


Children’s Mental Health Services expand to include two new joint initiatives with Lutherwood-CODA: the Partners Program and the Mobile Crisis Response


Per Diem Residential Services expand significantly and generate surplus funds to support the mission


kidsLINK launches Tools for Life, a product based on the Early Identification Early Intervention Program, for use in schools and homes


Walk-in service begins at the Children’s Mental Health Access Centre


2017 Vision established setting strategic direction for the next decade


kidsLINK officially adopts environmental responsibility as part of its sustainability agenda.


Tools for Life and Child and Family Professional were voted among the top earned-income venture ideas at the annual Social Enterprise Alliance Summit


New facilities at 1770 King St. E., Kitchener became Front Door – a safe, secure environment


kidsLINK sets out to discover the link between children’s mental wellness and nutrition, and to make dietary changes based on our investigation.


kidsLINK raises the bar on its commitment to being a trauma-informed organization and introduces the Sanctuary model.  All kidsLINK staff are trained in this blueprint for developing trauma-informed therapeutic communities.


kidsLINK opens a new, state-of-the-art facility that houses it’s School Treatment Program.  The new school incorporates geo-thermal heating and natural light in a welcoming space specifically designed for its treatment of childhood psychological trauma.


kidsLINK continues to move forward and pioneer new ways of serving children.  Building on the wellness, resilience and trauma-informed approach, Encompass for Healing and Learning is launched.

Carizon Family and Community Services





kidsLINK amalgamates with Mosaic Counselling and Family Services to form Carizon Family and Community Services.