Our new focus is on addressing the holistic wellbeing of young people and a collaborative process amongst agencies to ensure young people get the help they need, when they need it, and where they need it.

The structure of our Youth Support Centre is programming that provides 24/7 help and a safe place to sleep for youth ages 15–21, as well as a daytime resource and health hub for youth 15–24.

We recognize that our expertise is in providing 24/7 help (intake, triage, stabilization, connections, and safe spaces to sleep) as well as holistic wellbeing assessments and outcomes evaluations frameworks.

Since 1981, YESS has been evolving in how we understand and improve our support of youth.

In 2017, we identified that untreated trauma is a major causal barrier in youth success and wellbeing. In previous youth support strategies, the focus has been on providing solutions to address symptoms and not enough on addressing the root cause of their difficulties: family and community breakdown and the untreated trauma in young people as a result. Over the last seven years, we re-positioned our organization to focus on understanding trauma and supporting youth on their healing journeys, resulting in better outcomes for youth. These changes include:

  • Building an in-house Wellness Integration Team of psychologists and support practitioners to provide trauma-informed youth crisis stabilization and mental health education, to support front-line youth workers in crisis support and post-crisis healing, as well as programming and connections to cultural, identity, and spiritual supports for youth.
  • Co-founding the Youth Agency Collaboration and helping to bring together more than 30 youth serving agencies (and growing) to create a connected and collaborative strategy for youth wellbeing and prevention of further chronic symptoms such as homelessness, addiction, and criminal involvement.
  • Transitioning to a 24/7 intake centre for youth because crisis can happen anytime, and youth need a place to stabilize and sleep during the day.
  • Consolidating our resource hub, medical clinic, and shelter within a single location to make it easier for youth to have access to programs, services, and supports.

In March 2023, we completed our 2018–2023 5-Year Strategic Plan and have spent this past year understanding our expertise and value in the sector, as well as what is needed most in our community.

The work we have done in listening to youth and youth workers has led us to make some very big changes in our philosophy, programming, and strategic direction for the future.




A more connected, holistic, and lower-barrier system for youth in crisis.



Ensure 27/4 access, safe sleeping, and compassionate holistic support within a network of care to ensure youth get the expert help they need, when they need it, and where they need it.


What are barriers?

Barriers are realities such as time and distance, expectations, and even policies that put resources out of reach of those who need them. These restrictions often prevent people from seeking help.

What is trauma?

Trauma means any form of abuse, neglect, abandonment, violent, or unexpected experience that has a lasting negative impact on the physical, emotional, or development wellbeing of an individual. Among many serious effects, untreated trauma can have long term impact on the ability to form healthy relationships.

What is holistic wellbeing?

Holistic supports look at the whole experience of being: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual/cultural needs. Physical wellbeing includes stability of living condition, basic needs such as food and clothing, substance use and impact, mental health and self-care, and access to healthcare. Emotional wellbeing includes emotional and behavioural health and social skills. Mental wellbeing includes self-worth, setting goals, and embodying healthy resilience. Spiritual/cultural wellbeing includes participation in creation activities, connection to community, family, identity, language, and peers, and connection to culture, faith, and history.

Holistic assessments are shared across Youth Agency Collaboration organizations so we can offer a consistent continuum of care for youth.

What is collaboration?

Collaboration means working together with other organizations and in line with local, provincial, and national plans to create a holistic approach to addressing homelessness. Experience with youth who are in crisis means bringing their unique needs and specialized solutions to conversations and strategies about this population.



The Youth Agency Collaboration sees a future where young people in Edmonton can have a future of their choosing by having a solid, holistic foundation to build upon. Our collaboration prides itself on having strong diversity in terms of being intercultural, inclusive of 2SLGBTQIA+ young people, including youth serving organizations which work in preventative and crisis services, and working with Indigenous partners to include ceremony as a foundational component of our ongoing process.

The Youth Agency Collaboration was formed in 2018 for youth-serving agencies to collaborate and share experiences, information, and ideas to improve outcomes for youth.

Today, YESS and more than 30 youth-serving agencies across Edmonton are part of the Youth Agency Collaboration, working together to address the barriers that youth face with regards to safer spaces, trained help, holistic wellbeing support, and transitional housing that are all accessible 24/7, and in the communities where they live.

The new structure of YESS’ Youth Support Centre is a key component of the Youth Agency Collaboration, offering 24/7 intake, crisis stabilization, and safe sleeping for youth ages 15-21, as well as daytime access to drop-in medical and mental health services, housing connections, and other resources for youth up to age 24. YESS’ Youth Support Centre programs also support entry into the Youth Agency Collaboration continuum of complex care, should it be required.