Michael Coteau, Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services and Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism, has announced the expansion of the province’s Youth Outreach Worker program.
No fewer than eleven workers will be added to the program which is part of the province’s Black Youth Action Plan.
Coteau made the announcement on Friday at TAIBU Community Health Centre in Toronto which is one of eleven organizations receiving funding to hire the new workers “dedicated to supporting Black youth.”
Ontario is investing an additional $881,000 this year for the new workers in Ottawa, Windsor and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.
Coteau said the new outreach workers ” play an important role by providing youth in crisis with immediate support, and connecting them with a wide range of services in the longer term.”
Liben Gebremikael, Executive Director of the TAIBU Community Health Centre, noted that the addition of workers is crucial ” because it bridges a service gap in the community.
” By providing psychosocial and emotional support, they help ensure that Black youth are not marginalized, and are supported to regain confidence and build skills to navigate systems and institutions that tend to be racist or biased against them.”
A news release from Coteau’s office noted that the youth outreach workers are ” registered professionals who are qualified to deliver short-term counselling and clinical supports to youth in crisis.
“The new workers will also receive anti-racism training.”
According to the release, the workers:
- Identify youth who may be experiencing mental health or addictions challenges, trauma or violence;
- Provide strong, culturally appropriate mentorship to help youth make positive choices; and
- Connect youth and their families with local services, resources and opportunities.
The release noted that there are more than 110 existing youth outreach workers already supporting youth and families in communities across the province.
In 2016, youth outreach workers helped over 8,822 at-risk youth in nine high-needs communities by connecting them with supports for employment, recreation, housing, mental health and addictions and more, it said.
Between 2015 and 2017, there was a 58 per cent increase in youth outreach worker referrals to mental health services