On any given night, there are between 500 and 1,000 homeless and at-risk youth on Vancouver's streets. The majority of them have fled an abusive home, were abandoned by their parents, or were aged out of the foster care system at 19 with no family, no money and nowhere to go.
Covenant House's Crisis Program takes in homeless, runaway and at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 24.
When they arrive, young people are often distraught.
They are scared, sick, hungry and exhausted. Our first priority is to meet their basic needs:
- Medical attention
- Nutritious food
- A safe place to sleep
They also get compassion and support from caring adults, and a chance to start fresh.
We have 54 beds (30 for males and 24 for females) and we offer young people food, clothing and counselling. If they need to see a doctor, we arrange it. There is no fee to stay at the shelter. All are welcome, provided they are not a danger to themselves or others, which includes using drugs and alcohol.
Young people can stay in the Crisis Program for as long as they need to because getting through a crisis takes as long as it takes.
When kids settle in, a Youth Worker sits down with them. We learn what really brought them to Covenant House and determine how we can best help.
Day after day, we show them that they aren’t alone, that they belong and that they are loved. They can also receive substance misuse counselling, treatment for mental illness, and support with finding a job and a safe place to live when they leave us.
Our goal is to guide young people away from their immediate crisis and toward independent living or, where possible, family repatriation.
Sadly, repatriation is quite rare. Instead, when they are out of crisis, many are referred to our long-term transitional housing program, Rights of Passage, which allows us to provide them with a continuum of care in an environment that feels like home.
"I'm sorry it has taken me so long to let you know that I made it home all right. I'm happy to be home with my grandparents. I wanted to thank everyone who helped me out. I couldn't have done it without your help. I'm going to school again and hope to finish my grade 12 next year. It's hard work but I think I can handle it." - Ronnie, 17