While they are at Covenant House Vancouver, our primary focus is on meeting the individual needs of the youth. Sometimes their needs involve negotiating their relationship with their families.
One day, I was at the front desk when a woman called in. She wanted to know if her son was currently staying with us. I explained to her that for confidentiality reasons I couldn’t give her that information without written consent from the youth but that I could pass a message on to him if he was, or forward it to our community support services if he turned out not to be.
“Oh, no, you can’t do that. He would know that I was checking up on him.” She said. She went on to say that he had told her that he was staying here and that he really liked it – the food was amazing and all the staff were great. Above all, he mentioned that he felt safe and that he was working on getting a job.
She was worried, and as a parent of a 17 year old myself, I couldn’t help but empathize with the anxiousness creeping into her voice. The relationship between a youth and their parents can already be complicated, parents can sometimes have mixed feelings about their kids staying in a shelter. At some point throughout our conversation, I realized that I did know her son – he was, in fact, staying with us and I was one of his youth workers. Meanwhile, the concern in her voice was only growing.
“He said that I may not be able to come down there and visit him, is that true?” she asked.
Due to our new Covid-19 rules in place, we weren’t allowing any visitors into the building, but I suggested that if her son was staying with us, next time she talked to him she could ask him to reach out to staff about allowing them to be put in touch. A little while later, the youth spoke to me about his family, and specifically his mom. He said that she liked the sound of Covenant House, and that she would like to be able to contact us if she needed to. I said he could fill out a consent form; which he did, making it possible for them to connect with each other.
The relationships between youth and their parents vary and I believe in supporting our youth in their choices as well as holding a caring space for their parents and family.
Story shared by Lesley, a Youth Worker