Helping youth wherever they are.
© Barrett & MacKay Photo
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 committed to tackling youth homelessness strategically through coordinated and combined efforts focused on early intervention and prevention. We also know that many of the young people we support in St. John's are from elsewhere and could be better served with supports that are provided earlier and closer to home. With that in mind, Choices for Youth is proud to be working with dozens of community partners, government stakeholders, and national agencies to build a system of integrated support for youth and young families in Newfoundland and Labrador.
INTRODUCING INTEGRATED youth services
Throughout the next two years, Choices for Youth will act as the backbone agency for Newfoundland and Labrador Integrated Youth Services (NL-IYS), supporting the development of four initial NL-IYS sites across Newfoundland and Labrador. These four sites will operate as an integrated network alongside CFY's own site in St. John's. Focused on physical and mental health, housing, family and natural supports, and outreach and youth engagement, these sites will mirror the wrap-around support model that is provided through CFY's Outreach and Youth Engagement Centre - all while considering and prioritizing local needs.
Each of the sites will be centered on the principles of early intervention and prevention; offering a central access point for a young person needing in-person or virtual care. We are proud to be working with eight steering committees across Newfoundland and Labrador that have informed the models of service delivery that will meet the local and regional needs of youth and young families, while staying true to national best practices.
learning & Working 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 support in delivering services to youth outside of St. John's. We have visited more than 32 communities, meeting with more than 1,200 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. As we transition towards the developmental phase of this work, we are excited to share some of what we have heard over the past four years.
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.