The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH), working with the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness and A Way Home, was pleased to be able to conduct a national youth homelessness survey in the fall of 2015, the first of its kind ever conducted in Canada.

The Home Depot Canada Foundation provided funding for this ambitious project, the overall goal of which is to develop a better understanding of the causes and conditions of youth homelessness in order to feed into more effective plans, strategies and interventions designed to prevent, reduce and end youth homelessness.

While a number of local area studies have been conducted in cities across Canada (Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, Calgary, etc.) most of these studies have been conducted in larger cities and have used different methodologies. “Leaving Home” aimed to reach other parts of and the rest of Canada – suburban, rural, remote. Surveys were completed at agencies and service providers across the country, in nine provinces and one territory.

Coming in at 34 pages, this survey is comprehensive. It asks about education, health and wellness, income and employment, demographics, participation in child protection services, and more, and allows participants to give a snapshot of their current situation i.e. what factors are relevant to their leaving home (or being told to leave or being removed). Perhaps most novel is that we ask youth if they consider themselves homeless.

Despite the length, and in addition to our thanks to participants for their patience with the time it must have taken to complete the survey, feedback was positive, including this from Covenant House Vancouver, “The AWESOME feedback – many of the youth expressed gratitude for taking part. Many expressed that it was the ‘nicest’ survey they have ever been asked to complete. They felt like it was comprehensive, respectful, and is the first time that a survey or project really captured their true experience.”

The next steps are data analysis, taking place in March/April 2016, and a forthcoming report that provides the baseline of youth homelessness in Canada today. Stay tuned for more!

If you want to learn more or have any further questions or comments, we encourage you to post them on the Workspace.

Leaving Home: A National Study    By the numbers   1100 youth participants  57 participating agencies from 42 communities across Canada   Stay tuned for the results in fall of 2016
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