New Covenant House Toronto Plan Offers More Support for Homeless Youth

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With a new, comprehensive five-year strategic plan, Covenant House Toronto will address gaps in support and create more opportunities for homeless youth to help them move successfully to independence.

With a new, comprehensive five-year strategic plan, Covenant House Toronto will address gaps in support and create more opportunities for homeless youth to help them move successfully to independence.

“Along with our new plan, we have also adopted a new vision statement: to lead change that challenges homeless youth to pursue a life of opportunity, to better reflect our leadership role,” says Executive Director Bruce Rivers.    

The new strategic plan comes as the Ontario-based charity marks its 30th anniversary. Since opening its doors in 1982, the agency has grown to be a national leader in the care of homeless youth and has offered shelter and support to more than 85,500 kids.

Rivers explains that the extensive planning process confirmed that most homeless youth need more job opportunities, life skills training, aftercare and more supportive housing options to be able to achieve long-term, sustainable independent living.

For the past four years, the agency has seen record-high daily numbers of young people with increasingly complex needs. An estimated 35 percent of these youth are coping with mental health issues – often the result of their experiences at home or on the street. As well, about 40 percent of Covenant House youth have been involved with the child welfare system, and 25 percent have been in foster care.

“Without adequate stable housing, life skills, education and job experience, these young people face major challenges in moving forward with their lives,” Rivers says.

In response, the agency’s new plan sets key strategic priorities, including:

  •     Housing and aftercare, including establishing a new transitional housing option in the community; launching an enhanced life skills program and providing more aftercare to support young peoples’ progress.

  •     Employment opportunities, including additional job training, educational and apprenticeship programs either in-house or through partnerships, the development of social enterprise opportunities.
  •     Outcomes and community support, including monitoring and measuring youth progress; expanding partnerships for research in support of outcome measures and developing partnerships to better assist youth with mental health and addiction issues.
  •     Advocacy to offer a stronger public voice as an expert on youth homelessness to influence public policy and improve the lives of homeless youth.
  •     Fiscal stewardship, including diversifying and expanding revenue sources.
  •     Expansion such as exploring the potential for another site outside of Toronto, and working towards a national/international youth homelessness strategy.

The new plan is the result of more than six months of extensive consultation with a multitude of stakeholders, including youth using the agency’s services, 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. The work was done in partnership with KPMG LLP (Canada), which provided its services pro bono.

As the country’s largest shelter for homeless youth, Covenant House Toronto offers the widest range of services under one roof to help young people build better futures.

Covenant House offers comprehensive support to homeless youth for each step from the street to independence. The agency’s services range from runaway prevention, street outreach, emergency shelter, health care and counselling to life skills training, educational and vocational assistance and job training.

To do all of this, the agency relies on donors for more than 80 percent of our almost $19-million budget.

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