16 & 17 Year Old Youth in Muskoka - Report - 2005

This project was primarily designed to survey local service providers and professionals regarding the most apparent needs of this age group, particularly in relation to those encountering more serious problems. Equally important was the need to point out where gaps in capacity are perceived to exist and what can be done collectively to address these realities. In addition to seeking the views of providers, an attempt was also made to speak directly with a small sample of youth in this age band who were known to Family, Youth & Child Services of Muskoka.

From this report, there were a number of recommendations:  

1. In collaboration with a variety of partners across the District including the District of Muskoka, the Youth Justice community, Addiction Outreach and local church groups, explore the development of an emergency Youth Shelter for Muskoka. Attempt to locate existing building stock as the basis for reduced capital requirements. Work with existing strong interest in the community in this regard.

2. As part of the initial preparation, conduct a detailed data search with others to bring empirical evidence forward regarding the need for a Shelter. Incorporate a range of scenarios being faced by 16-17 year olds in need of temporary shelter in Muskoka as well as the actual data.

3. In collaboration with others including the District of Muskoka, local School Boards, the Youth Justice community & Addiction Outreach, explore the development of an integrated Preparation for Independence program for the District as a whole. Incorporate a detailed review of need based on empirical evidence as part of the preparation.

4. Review the models and documented evidence related to the impact of current PFI and shelter programs in North Bay, Barrie and Orillia as the basis for proposal developments in both cases.

5. Commit to review in 2005/06 the approaches being used internally by FY&CS regarding counselling services for 16-17 year olds. Look for opportunities for more non-traditional, flexible, mobile and innovative approaches. Ensure as well that the marketing of this service is enhanced as necessary across the District to increase awareness.

6. Family, Youth & Child Services is encouraged to support or participate in a one-day event, which will bring together the separate Drop in centre initiatives occurring in all three major towns. Ask the participants to share approaches, mutual experience, resources and to make agreements as to future relationships and mutual support.

7. A new commitment to coordinated planning for youth at a District level is imperative. It must incorporate key players in leadership roles led by Family, Youth & Child Services, the District of Muskoka Social Services, local Boards of Education and others. The agency should serve as a catalytic agent in establishing a new commitment to plan accordingly. Seek the input of the Ministry of Children and Youth as well as Youth Justice (provincial) and Health Ministries in this regard. As a first order of business, review the various Youth initiatives underway across the District at this time.

8. Collaborate with other service providers in an effort to review the efficacy of parenting programs across the District in supporting the specific needs of 16-17 year olds in conflict with their families. Seek strategies that would priorize a defined program for this age group. Develop a marketing strategy to increase its awareness amongst families and youth at risk. 

9. Review the current agency protocol with the local branch of Community Mental Health Services to ensure that it supports a smooth transition of referrals for 16-17 year olds who require adult mental health services.

10. Advocate for and support the funding of additional alcohol and drug abuse counselling for youth in Muskoka, as this is an area of growing concern and need.

To download and review the full report, click here.