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$4 million for youth emergency shelter in Cowichan

Vulnerable youth aged 15 to 18 who are in crisis, or at risk of harm or homelessness, in the Cowichan Valley will soon be able to access 24/7 services and supports
Grace Lore (left), B.C.’s Minster of Children and Family Development, has announced that a new emergency shelter for youth will be set up in the Cowichan Valley. Pictured with Lore is Cowichan Tribes Chief Cindy Daniels.

Vulnerable youth aged 15 to 18 who are in crisis, or at risk of harm or homelessness, in the Cowichan Valley will soon be able to access 24/7 services and supports at a new Youth Emergency Shelter that will be established in the downtown core later this year.
Grace Lore, B.C.’s Minster of Children and Family Development, made the announcement on June 10 at the Quw’utsun Cultural Centre in Duncan surrounded by community partners who care and support youth in the Cowichan Valley and have been advocating for a youth shelter in the are area for years.
Cowichan Tribes leadership has also been instrumental in this project as Indigenous youth are over represented in both vulnerability and number of lives lost, and the First Nation will provide the facility where the shelter will be located.

The address of the shelter is not being released at this time for reasons of confidentiality.
Cowichan Tribes Chief Cindy Daniels said the First Nation wants its future generations to have all the support they need to achieve their dreams.
She said a shelter for youth in the region has been identified as the number one priority among groups and organizations that work with young people.
“In 2023, Cowichan Tribes council approved the recommendations made by our Opioid Crisis Response Working Group, including taking actions to support our youth,” Daniels said.
“We are pleased that our contributions and ongoing collaboration with local service providers has been instrumental in bringing this pilot project with the province to our community. This collaborative model will allow for greater access to services and supports for Quw’utsun, other Indigenous, and non-Indigenous youth in our region. I raise my hands to the Cowichan Youth at Home team who have been working tirelessly to make this emergency shelter for youth a reality.”
The new youth shelter, called Cowichan YES, is funded by the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions as part of a cross-ministry collaboration with the Ministry of Children and Family Development to address challenges surrounding at-risk youth and substance use.

The province is providing $4 million over two years to support Cowichan YES, which will be used to assist with initial start-up and operational costs for the shelter.
The shelter will provide critical connections to additional supports and will be available day and night for youth in need.
Safe accommodation at YES is accessible on a voluntary basis for up to two weeks at a time.
No previous experience with government care is needed to access these services for youth.
In addition to wrap-around supports, the shelter will provide shower facilities, laundry, kitchen and sleeping spaces.
The number of beds is still to be determined.
“Substance use, exploitation and homelessness are issues that affect our most vulnerable youth at a far greater rate,” said Lore.
“The youth emergency shelter will provide real, meaningful supports to these youth when they are most in need.”
The YES is the result of efforts led by the Cowichan Youth at Home Team, a partnership organization made up of members from the Canadian Mental Health Association, Cowichan Tribes, Cowichan Valley School District, Cowichan Valley Youth Services, Island Health Child, Youth and Family Mental Health and Substance Use Services, Island Health Population and Public Health, Our Cowichan Communities Health Network and the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Community partners are working to integrate service delivery that will provide wrap-around supports to youth accessing the YES, with additional service providers, who will work together to ensure youth receive the resources and assistance they require.
Lore thanked all the partners for their hard work over the years to bring the YES to fruition.
She said young people face huge challenges.
“They’ve come through the [COVID-19] pandemic and are living in a toxic drug pandemic,” Lore said.
“There is a need for youth to have services and supports when they are vulnerable and have no place to go. As a minister and a mom, I know how important it is to get this right. The lessons that will be learned at the Cowichan YES will help us set up similar services across the province.”

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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