Announcing New Partnerships for Youth Reconnect
We’re pleased to announce a new partnership to build out our collective capacity to provide training and technical assistance, community of practice, and practical tools and resources specific to the Youth Reconnect model of youth homelessness prevention. This new partnership between The Raft, A Way Home, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, Covenant House Toronto, 360°kids, Threshold Housing, Youth in Transition and our Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab, is generously funded by the Porticus Foundation.
A community-based early intervention and prevention program, Youth Reconnect provides supports for young people aged 13 to 24 years (and their families) who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Young people are engaged through schools or other community services, in an effort to meet them “where they are at.” The goal of Youth Reconnect is to help young people stay connected to their family, community and school, and strengthen connections to natural supports in order to reduce the risk of homelessness. Our demonstration project in Hamilton, Ontario is helping to transform the youth homelessness system to focus on younger youth and their families at the point of crisis, thus preventing them from entering the youth homelessness shelter. Our work with Youth Reconnect has been greatly informed by the Australian successes and failures with the model, as well as The Raft in Ontario’s Niagara Region.
As noted, this phase of work is about building out our training and technical assistance capacity, but we’re excited that Covenant House has received funding from Porticus for the development and implementation of Youth Reconnect at Covenant House Toronto. We’ve also applied for additional funding for program implementation in partnership with 360ºkids, Threshold Housing and Youth in Transition – and prior to program implementation, these three organizations have generously offered to be the test sites for the new training and technical assistance curriculum, tools and resources. This all comes at an opportune time for Covenant House as they work to build additional capacity on youth homelessness prevention and sustained exits.
About Covenant House Toronto’s Implementation of Youth Reconnect
Covenant House is thrilled to have the opportunity to implement a Youth Reconnect program and is grateful for Porticus’ investment, and the support from all the partners. As the largest agency in Canada serving youth who are homeless, trafficked or at risk, Covenant House is invested in building efforts in homelessness prevention. Expanding our prevention work aligns with our strategic plan and priorities, including the development of an expanded housing strategy, and is a natural extension of our current work.
Recent sector reports acknowledge that we can never truly end homelessness until we are able to address how to stop the flow into homelessness. Consultations with youth echo this and indicate that we are waiting too long to intervene when a young person is at risk or experiencing homelessness. Many youth were able to look back on their lives and pinpoint the key moment that the right supports or interventions could have changed their path into homelessness.
Today, there is greater recognition that more needs to be done upstream—at home and in school—to prevent homelessness from occurring in the first place. In our 5-year strategic plan, we identified that preventing young people from experiencing homelessness and reducing their risk of re-entry are high priorities for the agency. Our current prevention and early intervention efforts focus largely on awareness presentations to students and supporting youth strengthen connections with their families and social networks through our Family and Natural Supports program. The Youth Reconnect program will allow us to build on these foundations by taking our support to youth and families further upstream.
In order to truly address the problem of youth homelessness, and help youth and families achieve better outcomes, we need to adopt a proactive approach. A proactive approach means we provide support earlier, faster, and more effectively when a young person is at risk of homelessness. We are excited that a Youth Reconnect program gives us the opportunity to put this into practice.