Youthdale began in 1969 as a single treatment residence for six troubled children in Toronto.

Before Youthdale, most residential services had relied on group living as the primary means of addressing behavior and personality issues. Youthdale's innovation was to supplement traditional residential programs with therapeutic structures and routines, family therapy, and a day program combining education and treatment.

In 1971, Ontario's Ministry of Health began funding the type of children's mental health services Youthdale had helped pioneer. This financial commitment made intensive residential treatment available to many more families as well as Ontario’s Children's Aid Societies.

All children's services, including children's mental health, were consolidated under the Ministry of Community, Family and Child Services in 1977.

In partnership with the Ministry, Youthdale has developed an unparalleled range of services under one administration to respond to the complex mental health needs of children and their families.