In December, my motion on activating a new community space for youth in our Oakwood-Vaughan neighbourhood passed unanimously at City Council. Since then, I’ve been working closely with our Social Development staff on finding a youth agency and new space in the community. While we continue to explore every avenue with City Staff and our partners at the Oakwood Village BIA, I’m pleased to announce that the successful agency is “For Youth Initiative” (FYI).
FYI is a multi-service youth serving agency that has been located in York-South Weston (YSW) for 25 years. They began the Reintegrating the Socially Excluded Program (R.I.S.E. Program) 6 years ago in response to community need for support for youth experiencing conflict with the justice system. They use a trauma-informed and person-centred approach to working with youth which takes into account their experiences with racism, marginalization, and other contributing factors to justice involvement. They have developed extremely effective outreach strategies to connect with youth experiencing marginalization through our relationships with nearby high schools, community partners, and community members.
At a high level, For Youth Initiative (FYI) Oakwood and Vaughan will:
- Deliver programs through a combination of virtual and in-person activities depending on public health and safety measures. The program will incorporate two components:
o Individual case management support (ongoing as needed for each youth)
o Group programming and workshops
- Case Leads are available for individual support 10am-6pm and programs are typically run 4pm-6pm Monday through Friday.
- Depending on community needs and the increase in virtual programming, they may be able to expand and adjust those hours to include later programming and weekend availability.
- Outreach will be targeted to YSW and the Oakwood and Vaughan area specifically. Virtual programming will have no limit as to the number of participants.
- FYI will expand their team by two dedicated FTE case workers to provide support to youth in Oakwood and Vaughan.
o One FTE will be dedicated to extending settlement and high school educational and leadership programming to Oakwood and Vaughan;
o The second FTE case worker will be focused on connecting out of school/mature youth to post-secondary education, employment and training;
o Youth Justice Staff would provide in-kind support to the Oakwood and Vaughan site based on a referral basis.
I’ll be sure to keep you updated once we’ve found a new home from our friends at FYI! This major steps that we’ve taken will be life-changing for our youth and I couldn’t be more proud of this work.