Describe where Supportive Housing fits in YESS’ mission to walk beside youth on their journey towards healing.
Supportive Housing Programs walks beside youth on their journey towards healing by providing a home-like environment where youth can feel supported and cared for. This is achieved through a team effort by a dedicated group of staff who include Youth Workers and House Parents, Client Navigators, Trauma Therapists, Employment Coordinators, a Program Kitchen Coordinator, and a Transition and Cultural Worker. We work in a coordinated effort to provide youth with their basic needs such as nutritious food, clothing, and shelter. We support youth to develop skills such as cooking, budgeting, job searching, and interview skills. We walk along youth in learning strategies and helping them achieve the future they have envisioned for themselves. With 24/7 staff present, youth are given the opportunity to make mistakes or thrive with a support system in place. We are consistently connecting youth to community resources that are relevant to their eventual successful transition – whether that’s returning home, finding appropriate housing, or independence.
In what ways has the COVID-19 crisis affected youth and staff in Supportive Housing?
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly changed the way we go about work and life in the Supportive Housing Programs. At the beginning of the crisis, we closed one of the two houses and moved all youth into one house- moving and transitions are never easy for anyone and are especially hard for youth who have experienced trauma. However, our youth have adapted well and quickly and are now enjoying their new home. We have had to introduce extra safety measures to protect youth and staff in the program as well such as providing gloves and face masks for use in the home and community, having youth complete daily self-assessments, providing extra cleaning supports, etc.
The uncertainty of this pandemic has caused a great deal of anxiety to our youth and staff. Consistency and predictability are some of the things that help youth who have experienced trauma navigate the world a little easier, and the COVID-19 crisis has made those two things challenging to maintain in the program as things change daily. To combat this and maintain some “normality” within the home, we have continued to provide some programming within the home- we provide laptops for youth to join their classmates online school and our team have become teachers to help. We have youth trying to achieve their goals despite all odds and a great team of staff who are working tirelessly to help them meet their self-appointed deadlines.
What is one thing you wish the wider community knew about YESS youth?
Our youth wake up every day and do the best they can with what they have. Some days they are strong and resilient and some days not so much. When someone experiences trauma and have little to their name it’s how they decide to heal that shows their strength. Our youth have a tremendous amount of strength.