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Better together: supporting youth with higher support needs

30 October 2023 — Youth aged 15 to 29 with higher support needs require specialized attention and expertise to assist with their unique challenges. We understand the critical importance of reaching out to this segment of Ontario’s population, as intervening early and effectively can make a profound difference in their lives and have broader societal implications.

This category typically refers to youth who face complex barriers to employment and self-sufficiency. These barriers may include disabilities, mental health issues, substance abuse challenges, involvement in the justice system, or experiences of trauma and mistreatment.

A one-size-fits-all approach is ineffective for this cohort. Instead, it is crucial to adopt a personalized and holistic approach that addresses their specific needs and circumstances.

Providing targeted supports and interventions for youth

By providing targeted support and interventions, we can help these young individuals overcome their barriers and develop the skills and confidence necessary to enter the workforce or pursue further education.

Early intervention can prevent barriered youth from falling into a cycle of unemployment, poverty, and reliance on social assistance programs.

The best supports to provide to barriered youth

We can effectively assist this cohort of individuals through:

  • Individualized support: every young person’s situation is unique. Thus, a tailored support plan is essential. It is necessary to work closely with each person to identify their strengths, interests, and areas requiring improvement – ultimately creating a roadmap for their success.
  • Collaborative networks: engaging various stakeholders, including social workers, counsellors, educators, and community organizations, fosters a collaborative approach to address the multidimensional challenges faced by these youth.
  • Skills development: equipping youth with tangible skills through vocational training, job readiness programs, and life skills workshops enhances their employability and overall self-sufficiency.
  • Mental health and wellness: recognizing the prevalence of mental health challenges among this cohort, it’s important to prioritize mental health support and counselling to help them cope with trauma and build resilience.
  • Advocacy and empowerment: it’s crucial to empower youth to advocate for themselves, as it helps them access resources and opportunities that they may not have been aware of before.

Programs offered by our founding partners

One of our founding partners, The Career Foundation, offers various employment and placement programs for multi-barriered youth. For example, their Completing the Circle program works closely with local employers to coordinate job placements for youth experiencing barriers to employment. Youth participants get trained and paid to work in fields that interest them, such as hospitality, health care, customer service, and more.

Additionally, The Career Foundation’s Youth Job Connection program provides year-round pre-employment and life skills training, as well as job placement support and mentorship to youth between the ages of 15 and 29. Clients of this program often reside in higher priority neighbourhoods that typically experience higher rates of crime, transportation related-barriers, and poverty.

Empowering youth to achieve their full potential

By investing in early interventions and providing specialized supports, we can empower these youth to break free from the cycle of dependency on social assistance programs. In doing so, we not only enhance their lives but also contribute to the betterment of society by nurturing a more productive, engaged, and self-sufficient generation.

We are deeply committed to making a positive impact on the lives of youth with higher support needs, ensuring they have the tools and support necessary to overcome their barriers and achieve their full potential.