The Numbers Don’t Lie
In 2018, StepStones sent 50 youth to summer camp and helped create long term stability for 400 kids
History of Abuse/Neglect
- 70% of program participants were previously involved with child protection services and have a history of abuse or neglect.
- Of youth at least 18 years old and older, 78% have graduated from high school.
- 92% of youth in our program have either graduated or are attending high school.
- In Ontario, only 44% of youth from the foster care system graduate from high school compared to 85% of the general population.
- At intake, 31% of the youth had all their necessary government issued ID (not including driver’s license).
- After 6 months, 85% of the youth have all of their necessary government issued ID.
- 49% of youth in our program were diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Of these youth, 90% of the youth are being supported or receiving treatment for this mental health disorder.
- At intake, 47% of youth had stable housing. After 6 months in the StepStones program, 88% of youth reported stable housing. Stable housing is defined, as housing which is not temporary, is less than 60% of one’s income and the youth describes as safe.
- In Ontario, only 1% of youth from the foster care system attend post secondary education, and at the time of intake, only 1% of StepStones youth were attending post secondary education.
- After 6 months, 9% of StepStones youth were attending post secondary education.
- After 12 months, 27% of StepStones youth were attending post secondary education.
- At intake, 25% of youth had a (non-professional) supportive adult in their life to assist them in life choices.
- By 12 months, 87% of youth had a (non-professional) supportive adult in their life to assist them with life choices.
- At intake, 52% of youth were attending school or an educational program. After 12 months, 92% of youth were attending school or an educational program.
- At intake, 29% of youth were unemployed and not attending school. After 12 months, only 2% were unemployed and not attending school.
- 0% of the youth were receiving scholarships at the time of intake. At 12 months, 22% youth had received a scholarship.
- At intake, 32% of the youth had previous involvement with the criminal justice system.
- Within the first 6 months, 0% of youth had been involved in criminal activity.
- Within the first 12 months, 2% of youth had previous involvement.
Why Do We Use this Method Of Intervention?
Intensive Case Management (Wrap Around Support)
This program has been designed based on evidence that intensive case management is a well-recognized and effective approach for supporting youth with complex needs (Milaney, 2011a; Morse, 1998, Gaetz, 2017), a key component to ending homelessness (Milaney; 2011; 2012), and derives best practices from the well-researched ‘housing first’ model.
This client-centered case management approach supports youth in achieving housing stability, health and well-being, education, employment, life skills development, personal safety, stable income, positive mental health, employment training, educational achievement, and life skills. Each of these factors has been found to lead towards increased stability, economic self-sufficiency, and poverty reduction (Gaetz, 2017). In addition, when youth are supported in advocacy, system navigation, healthy social relations, parenting, and legal support, and when social inclusions and connections are promoted, youth are able to attain greater housing stability, a higher level of integration into society, and greater self-sufficiency. (Gaetz, 2017).
The introduction of natural supports to youth has been shown to “enhance the quality and security of life” (The Change Collective, 2017: 4). These supportive relationships have been demonstrated to increase an individual’s self-esteem, self-identity, sense of belonging, and support of their emotional needs. It has also been demonstrated to increase a youth’s ability to meet their basic and physical needs. (The Change Collective, 2017: 4)
Mentorship is an integral part of this program and is listed as a “Critical Domain” in Mapping Community Assets for Transitioning Youth (2010). The importance of mentorship is also expressed by youth in care themselves: “Feeling isolated, as kids in care, could be prevented easily. After all, it only takes one person to make us feel like we’re not alone and there are 7 billion people in the world.” (Youth Leaving Care Hearings, 2012)
Among 339 19-year-olds exiting foster care, those with a natural mentoring relationship lasting over one year reported lower levels of perceived stress, less suicidal ideation, better overall health, and fewer sexually transmitted disease diagnoses than those with no natural mentor (Naccarato, 2010).
Our program requires volunteer involvement from the youth that facilitates the development of therapeutic relationships and provides a strength-based approach to service. This program works in collaboration with youth and service providers to offer coordinated service delivery, connect youth to appropriate services, provide individualized support, promote strong relationship development, ensure regular evaluation, and connect every youth with a primary and consistent worker.
This approach is well supported by research and ensures the highest likelihood of positive outcomes for individuals at risk of homelessness (Gaetz, 2017)
It is essential that programs are designed in a way that not only increases individual success rates but also ensures long-term program success. Our program clearly defines outcomes that are connected to program objectives and are measured regularly (Gaetz, 2017).
As evidenced in our internal research, evaluated independently by Taylor Newberry Consulting, youth in StepStones’ Youth in Transition Mentorship program demonstrates a significantly higher likelihood of completing high school, attending a post-secondary education program, securing safe and stable housing, increasing community connections, decreasing poverty levels, and reducing criminal behavior (see the 2018 Impact Report for further examples).