The main vehicle through which we design, test and evaluate innovations in the prevention of youth homelessness is through demonstration projects. Currently, MtS DEMS has implemented three demonstration projects at 12 sites across Ontario and Alberta. These largescale demonstration projects, delivered in partnership with local organizations, seek to build practical knowledge and an evidence base in order to shift policy, practice and investment.
What are MtS Demonstration projects?
Demonstration projects blend experimental program delivery with research and evaluation. They allow for key learning to come forward by answering questions such as: are the needs of the target demographic being adequately met? What program adaptations might be needed? What can others learn from this intervention? Answers to these questions provide practitioners and researchers with critical data about their theories and practice.
For MtS DEMS, this means implementing programs in community settings and allowing simultaneous qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Each community site has a specific focus, with a dedicated research and evaluation team to track the data and collect feedback from program participants and staff. The national team closely monitors and guides the research and evaluation work being done at the community sites.
Current Demonstration Projects
The following are our current demonstration projects. Through the broader work of the MtS Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab, it is anticipated that additional demonstration projects will be added.
Housing First for Youth
Housing First for Youth (HF4Y) is a rights-based intervention for youth who are experiencing, or at risk of homelessness. It is an adaptation of the well established Housing First model, designed to meet the needs of developing adolescents and young adults. There are HF4Y demonstration projects taking place in Hamilton, Toronto, and Ottawa (CMHA; JHS; YSB).
Youth Reconnect (YR) is a preventative intervention designed to provide support to vulnerable young people in the communities where they have developed social connections and supports, while encouraging youth to engage or re-engage with education. Hamilton is currently running a YR demonstration project.
Enhancing Family and Natural Supports
Enhancing Family and Natural Supports (EFNS) is focused on preventing and ending youth homelessness through strengthening relationships between vulnerable young people and their support networks, including family. There are eight demonstration projects taking place in Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, and Toronto.
The Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Demonstration Lab is a partnership between A Way Home Canada and the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness with the support of MaRS Centre for Impact Investing. Phase One of MtS DEMS (2017-2020) has been funded by the Government of Canada through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS).