There will be a new youth outreach workers (YOW) program coming to Kenora, Ont. in the near future, as the Kenora Chiefs Advisory (KCA) received new funding from the provincial government to implement the initiative.
The program will help fill previous ‘gaps’ in mental health and addictions funding and services
Logan Turner · CBC News ·
There will be a new youth outreach workers (YOW) program coming to Kenora, Ont. in the near future, as the Kenora Chiefs Advisory (KCA) – a health and social services provider for affiliated First Nations – received new funding from the provincial government to implement the initiative.
The KCA is receiving $321,300 to hire four new outreach workers, who will work in the community to help young people with referrals for culturally based interventions, to reduce barriers to accessing health services, and to promote “pro-social” opportunities for at-risk youth aged 12 to 25.
Joe Barnes, executive director for the KCA, said this funding will help fill some of the gaps in service that currently exist in northwestern Ontario.
“It fills in one of the gaps of funding that we have and it’s a tremendous help for our service-delivery model. The more that we can bring for our at-risk youth and support them, the better.”
Barnes added, “This $5 million is fantastic. I’m really glad that the provincial government sees the need to start somewhere … [but] we need more. We need treatment centres. We need cultural camps where we can take the youth out and educate them and help them work through their own culture.”
This is an expansion of the existing provincial YOW program, which was first introduced in 12 high-needs Toronto neighbourhoods in 2006 and has continued to expand over the years. Prior to this announcement, there were 126 youth outreach workers in the province, with only 10 in northern Ontario – split between Thunder Bay and Sudbury.
The funding for the KCA came as part of a larger $5 million announcement by Children, Community and Social Services Minister Todd Smith on Aug. 6, “for new and expanded Indigenous mental health and addictions services, including support for continued community-led responses to social crisis,” according to a press release.
A spokesperson for the ministry confirmed that the selection process has concluded for most of the funding. However, the ministry would not disclose the names of the remaining organizations to receive funding until all service agreements were put in place.