A Safety Network

Youth Empowerment and Support Services creates a network of agencies for vulnerable youth to easily access during the pandemic.

The pandemic has forced many people to social distance and stay at home, but what happens to those who don’t have a safe place to call home?

Youth Empowerment and Support Services (YESS) extended their hours to ensure vulnerable youth have access to shelter, and found a way to connect youth to a range of supports they may need.

“We provide a unique service where we provide 24/7 help, but during the day, our community partner agencies can also provide them with additional support,” said Stacey Johnson, Director of Operations and Fund Development for YESS

The pandemic forced many organizations and facilities to close, including schools, that exist as safe spaces for youth. Without those safe spaces, regularly available to our vulnerable youth, many had nowhere to go. YESS knew that when the pandemic hit, they would need a strategy to accommodate these youth, which is why, with their community partners, they are building a support network of care for their most vulnerable youth.

YESS was able to fund the Coordinated COVID-19 Response for Vulnerable Youth Project, with a $75,000 grant from Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF).

“Agencies know the importance of working collaboratively, but they don’t always have the resources to do that well,” Craig Stumpf-Allen, ECF’s Director of Grants and Community Engagement, says. “I hope that a good thing that can come out of this situation is that YESS and their partners can find better ways to coordinate their work, which will help them serve vulnerable youth more effectively in the future.”

The goal of the Coordinated COVID-19 Response for Vulnerable Youth Project is to develop and implement a streamlined process and service model suited to vulnerable youth. The project will help coordinate services between youth-serving agencies and potentially other community and government support, to help city efforts in serving youth during COVID-19 pandemic.

“Through this project, our youth will have multiple touch points throughout the city, making it easier for them to access the support and care they need without having to re-introduce themselves every time,” Johnson said. “The intent is that we will meet them where they need us, and the hope is that we can create stronger relationships and safer spaces for our traumatized youth.”

The Government of Canada’s $350-million Emergency Community Support Fund aims to help charities and non-profit organizations adapt and increase frontline services for vulnerable populations during COVID-19.

The Canadian Red Cross, Community Foundations of Canada and United Way Centraide Canada are collaborating with the Government of Canada to flow ECSF support to those who need it most right now.

“Not one organization has all of the solutions,” Johnson said. “So, the more we can work with our community partners, the better we can serve our youth.”

Learn more about the Emergency Community Support Fund.

The Emergency Community Support Fund
Funded by