Both locations have curfews for their youth. In the policy manual for Covenant House Toronto the purpose is explained as: “Curfew is a concrete expression of our Principle of Structure. It serves to assist the residents in developing the skills to discharge their daily living responsibilities (school, work, chores, etc.) during their stay in, and upon graduation from the Right of Passage program.”
CHT: The curfew changes as the youth moves through the program and is primarily dependent upon the completion of life skills workshops.
- Orientation period: Curfew is 10pm.
- After orientation it is 11pm Sunday through Thursday and 1am Friday and Saturday.
- It can be increased to 3am/3am depending upon life skills completion. Each month youth are required to attend at least two life skills workshops, which earn them life skills credits. For every two credits they earn their weekday curfew is extended by a 30-minute interval. When the weekday time catches up to the weekend time (i.e. 1am/1am), they both go up together by 30-minute intervals to a maximum of 3am.
- It is possible for curfews to be decreased if a youth fails to attend life skills sessions or is having other challenges meeting the expectations of the case plan or the overall program. These would be discussed at the weekly case management meeting and the reduction of the curfew could be applied as a means of removing a privilege.
- Youth who are enrolled in high school generally have a school night curfew of 11pm regardless of the number of life skills they have completed. Once they show regular attendance and prove that curfew is not an area of concern that will impact upon their schooling they may have their curfew extended.
Curfew time is strict and the policy manual states: “late is late.”
- If a youth is late for curfew they must meet with a staff member the next business day to explain their lateness.
- If they are continually late they will meet with their Consistent Worker to create a plan to overcome this challenge.
- If a youth is more than one hour past curfew and they have not contacted ROP staff then they are considered AWOL. When youth do contact staff the reason for the lateness/absence is discussed. Depending upon the reason youth who are AWOL might not be allowed into their room at ROP and instead may be referred to a shelter for the night. The next day the youth must speak with the Team Leader to determine follow-up actions.
CHV: The curfew is determined according to the step the youth is currently working on. As they work through the steps their curfew is increased accordingly:
- Step 1 - 10:00pm on work or school days/12:00am on 2 days off per week.
- Step 2 - 11:00pm on work or school days/1:00am on 2 days off per week.
- Step 3 and 4 - 12:00am on work or school days/2:00am on 2 days off per week.
- Step 5 and 6 – No curfew but must check in by phone when staying out late or away.
Youth who want an extension to a curfew need to make a request in advance. Any time a youth returns after 3am (whether it was approved or unapproved) it will count as an overnight rather than a late curfew. Youth are allowed into their room at this point and they will not be referred to a shelter.
Homeless Hub Thoughts:
Many youth who come to Covenant House have never had the benefit of a curfew. This structure is something that most youth who live in their family’s home experience and generally the curfew time increases with age and responsibility. Determining what the curfew will be and how it will be enforced will be dependent upon a variety of factors.
- Some communities have established a curfew for youth. While in most cases it applies to those under 16, in some places it includes 16 and 17 year olds. Agencies establishing curfews should align with legislation.
- In some ROP programs the majority of youth are employed, while in others the focus is on education. Curfews should be flexible (as they are at both CHT and CHV) for youth if they are employed in a night-time or evening job (or night school) to allow for youth to work/attend class as required and to allow for travel time home.
- Agencies may wish to set a stricter curfew time for youth engaged in school (or just for those in high school).
- Agencies may choose to develop a graduated curfew time based on life skills (like CHT) or steps (like CHV). If doing so it should be clearly communicated to a youth what they need to do to extend their curfew and the ways in which a curfew can be reduced.
- It is recommended that agencies do not penalize youth for missing curfew by referring them to a shelter for the evening. Except in cases of breaking a critical rule (violence, possession of drugs or weapons in the building etc.) loss of housing should not be used as a penalty. Transitional housing programs should aim to have a “zero discharge into homelessness” policy and discharging even for a night to a shelter violates that principle.