This framework introduces and provides an overview of Family and Natural Supports (FNS), a preventive approach to addressing youth homelessness. FNS is a key component of a larger systemic shift in responses to homelessness, away from emergency service provision and instead toward the prevention of youth homelessness. This framework explains FNS, its core principles and guiding philosophy, presents considerations for implementing FNS in communities, and provides case examples of what this work can look like in practice. It also addresses the need for early interventions (including Family and Natural Supports) and the compelling reasons to shift to prevention as the new prevailing response to youth homelessness.
The FNS framework builds on the foundational work of the Change Collective’s Working with Vulnerable Youth to Enhance their Natural Supports. The FNS framework was co-developed with practitioners from the Making the Shift Demonstration (MtS DEMs) sites in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and Red Deer. The framework is also informed by preliminary qualitative data and lessons learned from the eight demonstration projects in Ontario and Alberta that are testing the FNS principles laid out here. This guide will be updated based on ongoing research emerging from these projects, including developmental, implementation, and summative evaluations.