A new shelter for vulnerable youth to open in the Cowichan Valley

A new shelter for vulnerable youth to open in the Cowichan Valley
Province of British Columbia/flickr

A pilot program aimed at providing shelter for vulnerable youth who are in crisis will open later this year in the Cowichan Valley.

The Youth Emergency Shelter (YES) will be available to provide 24/7 services and support to vulnerable youth aged 15 to 18.

“This announcement of the YES program clearly demonstrates that our youth have been heard and that they matter,” said Lise Haddock, executive director of the Cowichan Valley Branch of Canadian Mental Health.

The YES program will help young people navigate issues such as family conflict, housing instability, homelessness and mental health and substance use.

“In 2023, Cowichan Tribes Council approved the recommendations made by our Opioid Crisis Response Working Group, including taking actions to support our youth,” said Chief Cindy Daniels.

“We are pleased that our contributions and ongoing collaboration with local service providers has been instrumental in bringing this pilot project with the province to our community. The Cowichan YES is a collaborative model that will allow for greater access to services and supports for QuwÍ›utsun, other Indigenous, and non-Indigenous youth in our region.”

The shelter will provide shower facilities, laundry, kitchen and sleeping spaces, while the number of beds is still to be determined.

Safe accommodation will be accessible on a voluntary basis for up to two weeks at a time.

No previous experience with government care is needed to access these services for youth.

The youth emergency shelter is the result of efforts led by the Cowichan Youth at Home Team, a partnership organization made up of members from the Canadian Mental Health Association, Cowichan Tribes, Cowichan Valley School District, Cowichan Valley Youth Services, Island Health Child, Youth and Family Mental Health and Substance Use Services, Island Health Population and Public Health, Our Cowichan Communities Health Network and the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD).

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions (MMHA) is providing $4 million over two years to support YES.

It will be the second pilot site of its kind in the province piloted by the MCFD.

READ ALSO: Emergency shelter units for the homeless arrive in the Cowichan Valley

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