Chad Story – Director of Practice Innovation – A Way Home Canada
David French – Director of Policy and Planning – A Way Home Canada
Firstly, we want to express our sincerest appreciation for the work you continue to do to ensure services to young people who find themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness are not disrupted during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Secondly, are you overwhelmed by the messaging, information and content circulating around COVID-19?
A Way Home Canada and the Candian Observatory on Homelessness continue to be here in support of your efforts. Complimentary to the support the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH) has been coordinating, one area that still needs to be addressed is how this advice and guidance is being tailored to the unique needs of young people who are experiencing homlessness or who are provisionally housed.
To date, CAEH has provided excellent advice to all orders of government, has convened virtual meetings with sector leaders and distributed timely updates and resources. Where possible, we will ensure that our efforts are closely linked and harmonized to ensure organizations who are struggling to coordinate their communities’ response to this rapidly changing situation get the information they need. It goes without saying that young people have needs that are distinct from adults. This means that our response to COVID-19 must also take into account the unique physical, emotional, social, and cultural needs of young people.
Why A Youth Response is Needed
- Young people need access to resources that are distinct from adults
- There are fewer youth-serving agencies across Canada (compared to adults); and so they will likely experience even greater pressures during this time
- Guidelines and protocols established for adults experiencing homelessness do not necessarily reflect the circumstances young people find themselves in
- Consideration must be given, across departments, for how current funding can be leveraged and maximized to ensure funding to organizations can be best utilized during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Funders outside of government must also exhibit flexibility concerning use of funds, reporting timelines, etc.
In this time of uncertainty, AWHC and COH are offering:
- Capacity to help identify the needs of youth-serving organizations from across the sector;
- Support to communicate the needs of organizations and young people who are affected by government decision-making;
- Mechanisms to curate, contextualize, and distribute relevant resources to youth-serving organizations throughout the sector; and
- Flexibility to act as a source of reassurance, guidance, and clarity for communities struggling to make sense of the situation and how to respond.
- Advocate for increased resources and flexibility (funding, PPE, space) for youth-serving organizations
- Answer the critical questions of leaders in youth-serving organizations
- Reduce the emotional and psychological burden placed upon frontline workers
Here’s how we plan to do it:
- Share timely, relevant, and where possible, evidence-based information to the youth homelessness sector
- Create channels to support real-time knowledge exchange
- Show examples of what is being done in communities (e.g., case studies and how-tos)
- Provide guidance on how to support the mental, emotional, and social well-being of sector workers
- Ensure that the needs of youth-serving organizations are part of government’s response to COVID-19
Three ways to get the support you need, right now:
- Complete the brief sector needs survey to help us capture current gaps and challenges you’re facing at this time. It should take less than 15 minutes to complete. We anticipate the need to refine the content moving forward but this will give us a first glance at the overall picture in Canada.
- Sign up here for our weekly Hub newsletter, which will feature important resources, information and real time strategies tailored to youth-serving organizations.
- Sign up here for weekly “real time practice” calls designed for frontline staff to troubleshoot ideas, discuss how you are coping, share information, and learn from one another.
In communication with our partners at HelpSeeker, they are working closely with communities to update their real time occupancy and the service continuum.
If you’re a frontline service provider during the COVID crisis, PLEASE prioritize updating your listing and occupancy so those seeking services can accurately assess the services and supports available to them!
Given the ever-changing nature of the COVID19 pandemic, we will continue to work closely with the sector to ensure our strategies and supports meet your needs