Crisis Shelter

Our shelter is a warm and welcoming space for youth, aged 16 (the minimum legal age in Ontario) to 24. Most of our youth, are fleeing homes with abuse and neglect.

Some have spent some time on the street. When kids come to stay at our shelter, they are taking the first step towards making positive life changes. Here, they are given food, a clean bed and a safe place to stay, but also the guidance and support they need to determine their own bright future.

Our 96-bed youth shelter is spread over two floors: one for girls and one for boys. Each floor has several rooms in it and no room has more than three beds. The rooms are clean and bright. Most are doubles and some are singles. This goes a long way towards making our youth feel safe.

When youth stay at our Crisis Shelter, they will keep that room until they are ready to leave. Youth don’t have to line up every day to get a bed – their bed is theirs. Once they are in our shelter, they have a guaranteed bed for as long as they are working on their plan for the future and meeting the expectations set out for all of our youth.

Upon arrival, youth are given underwear, socks, pyjamas, shampoo, body wash and a toothbrush. If they need other clothes or footwear, we supply it for them.

As our kids learn that they can trust and rely on us, they become more confident about accepting our guidance. When kids feel cared for, they begin to believe in possibilities for the future.

We make a huge impact on kids’ lives and develop relationships. It’s so nice to see a kid blossom. Staff are so good at dealing with any kid who comes in our door.”
– Desiree, Associate Director, Program Services

Food builds trust

When kids in all of our programs see that they receive regular, nutritious meals, they begin to feel that someone cares about them and they open up to us.
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Fostering resiliency

We use a model for building resiliency in our youth. It was developed by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, based on his extensive research and experience at Covenant House.
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Making a promise

The cornerstone of our approach is the “covenant”. We promise to care for and support every youth who stays at Covenant House. In return, they commit to a plan and work towards future goals.
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Pastoral support

For those who seek spiritual comfort, our pastoral minister offers guidance. She also helps them get back in touch with their religious communities and reconnect with their faith if they choose.
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The intake process

Covenant House is always open. There are staff at our reception area and youth workers available to care for youth 24/7.

When a youth first comes to Covenant House, there is a special waiting area to welcome them and take care of their immediate needs, because they are usually hungry and exhausted. Youth are given a couch to relax on, food to eat and clean clothes to wear. There are also shower facilities for youth to take a hot shower. They can also visit our onsite Health Clinic if they need treatment. A youth worker will then assign the youth a room.

When they first arrive, youth have at least 48 hours to recover from whatever circumstances brought them to our doors before we meet with them to discuss a plan for moving forward. Many have been driven into the shelter by trauma and are physically and emotionally drained. They may have missed some meals. They may not have slept in a warm bed or had clean clothes for some time. Youth need time to recover from this exhaustion before they can begin to think about anything else.

A place for their stuff

When youth are homeless, everything they own is carried with them on their back. One of the first things that usually happens to youth on the street is that they get robbed. On the street, there is no reliable way for them to protect their belongings.

At Covenant House, our kids can leave their belongings safely in their rooms each day. Every youth has their own personal chest of drawers that can be secured with a combination lock. Each room is locked by staff every morning and access is limited through the day.

Abstinence based

Covenant House is the only abstinence-based youth shelter in the city. Youth who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot stay at our shelter. This keeps our kids safer and offers a positive choice for those who are trying to make changes. It is very difficult for youth who are trying to quit drugs and alcohol to be surrounded by it in their environment. They sometimes come to us straight from treatment centres. For those who do arrive under the influence, we refer them to another shelter. They are welcome to return the next day.

Emergency beds for young women who have experienced sex trafficking or exploitation

We have two designated emergency beds in our crisis shelter for young women who have experienced sex trafficking or exploitation. The beds ensure that we have a safe place for them 24/7. We have a team of experts dedicated to meeting their needs with case management and wraparound support. The beds are the first of their kind in the city.

The beds are a part of an emergency response protocol that is supported by the Toronto Police Human Trafficking Enforcement Team, Victim Services and other community partners. When a girl who is being trafficked is found by police or identified by someone else in the community, we offer her immediate care.

Aftercare


Our aftercare program, Youth Connect, enables youth to stay in touch with us after they leave our services. To ensure young people know they can continue to rely on our support and guidance, we connect by phone or text with our former residents on a regular basis for up to a year.

These youth may be living independently or have returned home or are living with other family members.


Learn more about our work


Success stories
Sophie

Cooking for her life

When Sophie’s mom was angry at the world, it was Sophie who would suffer. Her mom was overwhelmed and alone with six kids.
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Gift Catalogue
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Helping Street Kids

Give a meaningful gift of food, shelter, job training and more through the Street Kids Gift Catalogue.
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