Youth Homelessness is an issue which cuts across the many economic, social, and regional challenges faced by our province. However, this is a problem with known solutions and best practices. At Choices for Youth we are ready to tackle youth homelessness strategically through coordinated and combined efforts for prevention, better supports, and smarter interventions. We also know that many of the young people we serve in St. John's are from elsewhere and could be better served with supports provided earlier and closer to home. With that in mind, we are actively working on opportunities to expand services and programs to several communities around Newfoundland and Labrador.
working & learning together
Since May 2017, CFY has been on the move, on the phone, and online with people from across the province, and across Canada, to better understand how we can play a role in delivering services to youth outside of St. John's. We have visited more than 25 communities, meeting with more than 500 young people and hundreds of service providers, government staff, and community members. As an organization taking its first steps outside of the city, we know that listening comes first.
Our We Are Ready report shares some of the results of that process - broad-based consultations on what communities need and where their strengths lie, and key themes that emerged across Newfoundland and Labrador.
Browse the report below, or click here to download.
As a critical step in this work, CFY is continually exploring opportunities for partnerships, and cultivating a community of individuals and organizations who are already doing work to support at-risk and homeless youth (ages 16-29) around the province. While the We Are Ready report offers a comprehensive starting point for this work, there are many more conversations to come.
Do you have an idea for a partnership, or your eye on a gap in services outside of St. John's? We'd love to hear from you. To get in touch directly, you can reach out to our Provincial Expansion Coordinator anytime.
Provincial Expansion Coordinator
happening right now
At CFY, we are currently taking all the learnings from our consultation process and turning them into on-the-ground programs and broad youth serving strategies. There are three main pieces to this work:
Inside CFY: Working with our program staff to prepare for expansion and build up resources for partnerships. This means assembling manuals and toolkits to support the adaptation of our programs, developing mentorship procedures and supports, and identifying the CFY programs that are in-demand in other communities.
Outside CFY: Building local networks to support expansion work at the regional level, and signing on partners to join in program delivery. The biggest focus of this work will be developing sites for Integrated Service Delivery, which brings together the many different services youth need under one roof. CFY is committed to providing support and leadership for these models across the province. Over the years, CFY has had a chance to learn from countless organizations around Canada and around the world, adapting their program models and studying their experiences. Soon we will be able to serve community partners across Newfoundland and Labrador in the same way.
Supporting Systems Change: Newfoundland and Labrador is in the midst of an unprecedented shift in all the systems that support our youth. With major change underway in the mental health, addictions, education, child welfare, and housing and homelessness systems, we are on the cusp of emerging as a Canadian leader in our response to youth homelessness and its causes. CFY is working to connect these system changes, keep community partners engaged, and bring the voice of youth to the table.
A Provincial Plan
Newfoundland and Labrador has the opportunity to become a social policy leader by developing and implementing a province-wide plan to end youth homelessness. Building on our Towards a Solution report, CFY is expanding these conversations by bringing people together, gathering data, and connecting communities with national and international partners.
One of the most important elements of this process is recognizing that the solutions must look different from community to community, but the principles behind them and the approach to them can be - and must be - consistent. With that in mind, we brought together many of our province's key voices: youth; community sector leaders; Indigenous leaders and elders; and all levels of government in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador for a summit meeting to develop a Statement of Principles to guide the work of youth-serving agencies, individuals, and organizations in our province.
Looking ahead, as we work towards the development of a provincial plan to end youth homelessness, we are calling on our government partners to ensure that some key elements are highlighted, as laid out by a A Way Home Canada and the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness. Reflective of our own approach to service delivery and programming, these key elements include:
A Focus on Prevention
The Housing First for Youth Framework
Systems Integration and Coordinated Access
Addressing Educational and Employment Challenges
Fostering Resilience and Mental Health Supports
Fortifying Natural and Family Supports
Any plan must include a specific strategy for youth and emerging adults and address structural, systemic, family, and individual factors that lead to homelessness.