The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Society are celebrating the grand opening of a new safe house for vulnerable teens in Nanaimo, which doubles the capacity of the former youth safe house.
The old facility, which had been operating out of a house on the same lot, offered four beds for at-risk youth between the ages of 14 and 19. The newly opened facility is able to provide eight beds, two full washrooms, a bigger kitchen space with brand new amenities and a large patio. In addition, the new facility is wheelchair accessible.
The safe house provides short-term protective accommodation on an emergency basis to youth who want to leave the streets or other unsafe situations. Youth have a safe place to sleep at night and supportive staff members are there to help connect youth to services to meet their longer term needs.
MCFD invested $375,000 in capital funding (2010-11 funding) for the $750,000 project. The Vancouver Island Health Authority provided $100,000 and the balance of the construction costs were financed by Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Society. The City of Nanaimo waived development fees of $16,500.
MCFD also provides $325,000 in annual operational funding for the safe house, with a new three-year funding contract signed this year.
Access to the service is either by self-referral or by referral from the ministry. The stay can be anywhere from an overnight to up to two weeks, based on the individual's circumstances and need.
The groundbreaking was celebrated in June 2011 by all partners. Construction started in September 2011 and was completed in March 2012.
Mary McNeil, Minister of Children and Family Development -
"When youth are on the street, or in other at-risk situations, we need to work together as a caring society and do everything we can to take them out of that situation, offer them a safe and supportive place to go and receive the help they need."
"We are honoured to support this important and worthwhile project, which will provide a safe, caring environment for at-risk youth on Vancouver Island for years to come."
Ron Cantelon, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum -
"Our government remains committed to helping to ensure the safety and well-being of vulnerable youth in communities across B.C."
"The existing youth safe house already offered excellent assistance to teenagers in this community, and now with double the capacity in a brand new facility, it can provide even more help to those in need."
Mayor John Ruttan, City of Nanaimo -
"The City of Nanaimo is pleased to be a part of such an important capital project, which will make it possible for more local youth to get the help and resources they need when they are struggling with homelessness or other issues."
"This youth safe house provides a helping hand and a compassionate response which is so important in assisting young people to move forward into a happier, healthier space, and regain hope and strength."
Grace Elliott Nielsen, executive director, Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Society -
"Investing in our youth ensures a healthy future for all. I want to thank the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Vancouver Island Health Authority and the City of Nanaimo for their continued support."
Allison Cutler, executive director, Population and Community Health, Vancouver Island Health Authority -
"We are very happy to work in partnership with the B.C. government and Tillicum Lelum on this extremely valuable capital project, which will help boost the safety, health and well-being of at-risk youth on Vancouver Island, at a time when they need it the most."
- The ministry is committed to ensuring the safety of B.C.'s children and youth in communities across the province by providing services for vulnerable youth.
- MCFD's youth services budget for 2012/13 is $40 million - an increase of $14 million since 2000-01. This budget funds youth safe house and emergency shelter beds across B.C., as well as a number of other valuable services that help youth, including:
- Outreach workers, youth support workers, youth and family mediation, and transitional housing,
- Support services for sexually exploited youth,
- Youth Agreements with MCFD to address homelessness if living at home or with relatives is not an option, providing financial assistance for alternate places to live in addition to other supports,
- Youth Education Assistance Fund - supports former youth in government care to engage in vocational training and post secondary education with more than $7 million in bursaries distributed to more than 1,000 youth,
- Agreements with Young Adults - supports former youth in government care to transition into adulthood through financial assistance for education or rehabilitative programs, with more than 1,160 young adults helped.
- In addition, the ministry works collaboratively with other ministries, to help link youth with other valuable services such as income assistance, alternative education or addictions programs.
- Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Society has been working to help improve the quality of life for Aboriginal people living in an urban environment since 1965 through a holistic approach to programming and services. Over the years, Tillicum Lelum has grown from a coffee drop-in to a multi-facetted agency, offering education and training programs, health and counselling services, social service programs and cultural events.
If you want to know more about youth programs and services offered through MCFD, please go to: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/for_youth.htm
To learn more about Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Society go to: www.tillicumlelum.ca/
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Children and Family Development
250 508-8403 (cell)