Our planning through our last fiscal year identified priority areas to enable our kids to succeed. These areas include: housing and support for our youth after they leave our care; career and education opportunities with a strong focus on partnerships and measuring outcomes; advocacy and diversifying our revenue sources.
Our plan responds to a pressing need for more stable housing, job and education opportunities, life skills training and aftercare to help youth transition successfully to independence. It also addresses the need for more treatment options through community partnerships.
“Without adequate stable housing, life skills, education and job experience, these young people face major challenges in moving forward with their lives,” Executive Director Bruce Rivers says. “We are hopeful that our plan is a blueprint to address these needs.”
We recently launched a partnership with Hollyburn Properties where one youth was provided a rent-reduced apartment. We plan to acquire apartments for up to 10 youth by next summer as well as a place for victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Our skills training and aftercare will enable our kids to stay connected and help them become more successful at maintaining independence.
We have also strengthened our voice as an advocate for homeless and at-risk youth. We have substantially increased our presence in recent months on social media and in traditional media, as well as our government relations efforts. We plan to continue growing our advocacy work in all of these areas.
We will be re-focusing our vocational services to provide youth with more job readiness skills, which will improve their chance of success on the job. We also aim to partner with government on providing more adult education and employment options for our kids.
The new plan is the result of more than six months of extensive consultation with our stakeholders, including our youth, donors, community partners, government and other service agencies. It also reflects the findings of an in-depth review and analysis of other local, national and international youth service providers.
For the past five years, the agency has seen record-high daily numbers of young people with increasingly complex needs. About 40 percent of Covenant House youth have been involved with the child welfare system, and 25 percent have been in the care of Children’s Aid. We estimate about 35 percent of these youth are coping with mental health issues, often as a result of their experiences at home or on the street.
“The kids we are seeing now have greater challenges and are more ‘stuck’ than ever,” explains Rivers. “We are hopeful that the initiatives proposed in the plan will help kids surmount the obstacles they face.”