December 30, 2015 - 9:00 PM
KAMLOOPS - Several agencies in town do their best to help curb homelessness in Kamloops, but one is being recognized nationally for assisting homeless youth.
Katherine McParland, youth homelessness manager with Interior Community Services, has joined forces with 15 agencies in town to help teens who are homeless or could be soon.
McParland and other leaders help provide the proper services to each teen who enters any one of the participating agencies. All pay close attention to foster children who are close to aging out of care. McParland says ensuring a youth doesn’t become homeless or stay so for too long will help prevent perpetual homelessness in the future.
"If we focus our energies in ending youth homelessness, we’re going to significantly reduce adult homelessness,” McParland says.
In a 2012 survey, the City of Kamloops had 292 youth who didn’t have a permanent place to stay. McParland says conducting a regular youth homelessness count is part of the effort’s long-term plan.
A Way Home - the title of the joint effort - succeeds by helping any youth who enters a participating agency connect with all the resources they would need to find a secure place to live. The agencies range between the Ministry of Children and Families, aboriginal assistance agencies or Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre. McParland says a youth in need of help can sign a disclosure agreement which will allow all agencies to share information on that individual amongst each other to ensure the best level of care.
Each case might be different, but McParland says teens are being provided with places to live, assistance with rent and some additional life skills so they can learn how to budget and take care of themselves.
"If we can provide youth housing and support, we know that integration in the community will come. A youth can walk into any agency and they’ll receive access and support to all these agencies,” McParland says.
While organizers are still working to develop a more thorough plan to help curb the issue, the Kamloops project has received national attention. The group’s national partners have recognized the momentum and changed the cross-country program’s name to match Kamloops.
For more information on A Way Home and community plans, visit the site here.
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