As I look out my office window at the trees and flowers in bloom, I’m reminded that it has only been six months since we launched A Way Home with the support of a range of organizations and partners in Canada, but also international partners such as FEANTSA, the UN and the U.S. federal government. A Way Home is a cross-sectoral national coalition whose members are aligning strategies and resources to affect real change on the issue of youth homelessness. The goal is to shift the focus from simply ‘managing’ the problem through emergency services, to actually preventing and ending youth homelessness. Our efforts are spawning an international movement for change on the issue, as well as inspiring leaders from other complex social issues to apply our approach and learning.
I think it’s important to highlight that before we formalized as a coalition, the national partners were engaged in wonderful, collaborative work. We are now poised and active as a coalition to take the work to scale in a strategic, coordinated way using the Collective Impact framework. We all know what collaboration looks like, but Collective Impact is actually a little different. It involves a group of relevant actors from different sectors working together to address a major challenge by developing and working toward a common goal that fundamentally changes outcomes for a population. As we progress in our work, Dr. Stephen Gaetz and I will be writing a series of posts about Collective Impact and our blending of this framework with the Constellation Model. For now, let’s just say it is incredibly difficult work, but if we are asking communities to think and work differently concerning youth homelessness, then we must also if we truly want to have better outcomes for youth. In addition, I’ll release a series of blog posts that ‘deep dive’ on some of the work we are either leading or supporting as a coalition.
A Way Home, in collaboration with a range of partners, will launch a number of resources and supports in the coming months designed to help communities and governments make the conceptual and practical shift to prevention. This includes a comprehensive Youth Homelessness Community Planning Toolkit developed with the support of the Province of Ontario based on best practices in planning as well as the on-the-ground trial and error in youth homelessness planning and implementation from communities, provinces and states across Canada and the U.S. We’re also gearing up to launch a series of resources and webinars focused on youth homelessness prevention and change management. This fall we will release the results of the largest national study on youth homelessness ever done in Canada, led by A Way Home founding member the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.
In closing I would like to highlight that one of our coalition members, The Push for Change, launched a major national campaign last week. I’m reminded that we can all play a role in this movement to prevent and end youth homelessness. Joe Roberts, a formerly homeless youth, is pushing a shopping cart across the country to not only raise awareness about youth homelessness, but to leave a legacy of prevention. A Way Home has partnered with Joe and The Push for Change, Raising the Roof, and the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness to launch The Upstream Project, which is a school-based, early-intervention model adapted from Australia. The Upstream Project is but one of many prevention-based interventions we will be promoting and/or piloting in the coming months. Stay tuned for updates as we seed and support communities and governments to prevent and end youth homelessness in Canada.
This post is part of a monthly series that follows A Way Home's progress as we create real change on the issue of youth homelessness. On the second Wednesday of every month, join us for an update from A Way Home's Executive Director, Melanie Redman.