COVID-19 Programming & Agency Plan
To our Youth, Staff, Funders, and Stakeholders,
YOUCAN Youth Services is taking the COVID-19 situation very seriously, and has been quick to act on Provincial and Federal recommendations, as well as staying up to date on changes and new information provided by Alberta Health Services.
Our main priority is the safety of our youth and staff at this time, and we have implemented quick changes to how we work. In regards to how we offer supports and programming to our youth, this is an ever-changing situation, and we realize that our strategies and protocol will have to be flexible and quick to adapt. We as an agency are prepared to take on this challenge and will continue to do what we do. That is to support one another, and our youth to the best of our abilities, with the resources we have.
The information below explains the changes YOUCAN Youth Services has made to how the agency operates and how youth are supported during this time.
Moving forward, as of the current date of March 18th, 2020:
The Verto Project:
- All in-house youth programming has been cancelled, and has been changed to an online learning system. Staff has issued agency IPad’s to every youth in Verto, with video and messaging capabilities. Facilitators will now issue lesson activities and homework for youth daily, based on current program curriculum. This process and system will be improved upon as time goes on, and will be supported by the entire Verto staff team.
- Youth are responsible for joining a digital meeting/circle in the morning, to check in with one another and staff, and to set the expectations for the day. This is crucial for staff and youth to stay connected, and to support one another with possible problems, stresses, and concerns. Youth are then responsible for joining a digital meeting/circle at the end of the day, to check in again and discuss their progress with projects, and facilitation material, and the homework that was issued for the day. They will be responsible for emailing in their work to facilitators.
- Transitional Outreach Workers, along with the Employment Coordinator, will take on a more support/outreach role, focusing on daily check-in’s and support for youth. They will be working with a caseload of youth with both current and past Verto participants that they will be calling, and scheduling daily/weekly meetings with, as well as utilizing online capabilities (video and phone conferencing).
The Relentless Youth Outreach Program:
- All in-house Relentless supports, including Unite (evening youth programming) have been cancelled. Relentless staff will now support youth on a mobile basis, through one-to-ones out of agency, as well as through phone and video conferencing. Relentless staff will focus on supporting youth with managing their personal needs, and encouraging youth to look after themselves physically and emotionally. Relentless staff will maintain current caseloads and focus all efforts toward the youth that most need their support and help. The Relentless Outreach Team is prepared to take on unique challenges, that will also include helping youth navigate the process of securing financial assistance from the government, so that they can meet their basic needs.
- Relentless Outreach School Staff will continue to support the team as a whole, and will continue to communicate and support the school and students/families in a realistic capacity.
YOUCAN Agency Staff Protocol/Communication/Working From Home:
- In-house agency staff has now been limited to two employees during the day; this may change in the coming weeks. This is not only for the safety of staff, youth, and to adhere to social distancing information, but also for the safety of staff that will be working within the office. This will be on a rotating schedule, based on staff availability and possible quartentine measures.
- Staff will consistently utilize their work issued computers and cell-phones, to maintain consistent communication within individual teams, as well as leadership, and with the youth themselves. Staff will be checking in everyday in the mornings, to touch base and discuss priorities for the day. These check-in meetings will also happen at the end of the day, for staff to check out and discuss how their day was, and to debrief any concerns.
- All agency staff will continue to be productive with their time, and accountable to the youth, the agency, and themselves. Staff, depending on their individual roles, will be creating unique opportunities to maximize their roles with the limitations of this situation. Our agency staff team is incredibly professional, passionate, creative, and will rise to this occasion. YOUCAN Youth Services has always embraced the word “Relentless,” and this is no exception. All of us will continue to be relentless with supporting the youth, one another as a staff, and supporting the agency we represent.
- In-house counseling supports provided by the Edmonton Counseling Centre, will also be available for youth on a continuing basis, but will now be implemented through phone and limited mobile face to face contact. YOUCAN Youth Services works with two counselors who support and offer free counseling services throughout the week to YOUCAN youth.
These events and situation are unprecedented, not only for us here at YOUCAN Youth Services, but our communities, and the world as a whole. It is at this time, that we must band together, and embrace strength, positivity, humility, compassion, and relentless determination. We believe will get through these difficult times, and will come out on the other side stronger. We here at YOUCAN Youth Services will continue to do what we do best, and that is support vulnerable youth within the community. We will embrace the words of Maya Angelou…“Stand up straight, and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances.”
YOUCAN Youth Services Team