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New Legislation: Supporting Safety and VOICES of 16-17 year old youth

December 22, 2017

On January 1, 2018 there will be a significant change in how our agency can respond to the needs of youth between the ages of 16-17.  Legislative amendments will now allow for the protection of 16 and 17 year-old youth. This means Family & Children’s Services of Renfrew County will be able to support youth that are unsafe or may be unsafe with direct support that will work with them to ensure their safety.

What will be able to do?

We now have the capacity to meet with youth and their families and networks to provide direct support in regard to protection concerns and youth safety up to the age of 18 years.  We have a long history of supporting youth in Renfrew County outside of a protection mandate and can now build on our positive youth engagement efforts.  These have included:

Longstanding placements of two social workers at Bishop Smith High School and one social worker at St. Josephs High School to provide direct counselling and support to youth.
Direct service to homeless youth and youth at risk of homelessness via The Safe Shelter for Youth program
The SETT (Summer Employment Training Program) to provide summer employment training and support to youth outside of the protection mandate for many years.
The Three Doors Program engages youth that are not in care in activities that support wellness and independence.

Why is this important and how will this benefit Renfrew County?

This is an opportunity to respond to calls with the same level of service and caring that has been our mandate for younger children.  We will use all of our resources to support youth safety and wellness within Renfrew County.  Staff will be supported to grow and have the confidence, internal expertise and high level expertise that are required to engage and support the most complex needs.  We will be engaged with youth, their voice will be heard and they will guide service.  There will be flexibility to be creative within safety plans as this will be required in an approach that recognizes youth as independent persons.  This will be a network approach that will offset isolation by engaging, collaborating and empowering youth, families and communities to define and create their own safe environment.