Niagara Resource Service for Youth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winner – Niagara Resource Service for Youth (o/a The RAFT) based in St. Catharines, ON provides hostel and outreach services and independent living supports to high risk and homeless youth in throughout Niagara Region.

“I couldn’t live at home anymore. My dad and brother partied all the time and I couldn’t get any sleep or school work done. I missed school all the time because I was staying in Fort Erie and my school was in Ridgeway. My school thought it would be a good to meet Amber [Youth Reconnect Worker] and get some help. We met at my school. She helped me a lot and got me a really nice apartment. I couldn’t go to my high school anymore because I missed so much school. Amber got me into EDVanced where I can catch up on credits faster and be able to graduate on time. I should be able to go back to my high school next year if I get caught up. I would like to be back with my friends. Amber checks up on me all the time making sure I go to class and I know if I need anything she’s always there for me. “ RAFT participant

The initiative – Youth Reconnect which aims to keep precariously housed youth in school and connected to their community.  Working in partnership with local agencies, this homelessness prevention program:

  • Accepts referrals from high schools, community partners, social service agencies and police services
  • Helps youth access resources and increase their self sufficiency
  • Provides advocacy services, life skills training, one-on-one mentoring, and emergency hostel access
  • Helps youth find affordable housing, live independently, and remain housed
  • Facilitates family re-unification whenever possible and safe to do so
  • Focuses on assisting youth reduce involvement in high risk behaviours

Impact for youth –

  • Over 75 % of participants remain in school
  • Over 90 % of participants remain housed after 3 months with the service and 70 % remained housed after 6 months
  • Estimated to have reduced shelter usage by 370 youth individuals in 2011
  • 100 % of participants reported feeling safe and supported compared to only 30 % before connecting with the services
  • Increased feelings of connectedness with their own communities
  • Increased knowledge and ability to access a variety of community resources
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