In order to stay in the program, a youth must work their program, follow the rules of their respective ROP and engage in their day plan.
CHT: Youth in Toronto are able to stay for one year. Occasionally, short extensions are made – particularly for youth who are addressing mental health or addictions issues – increasing the duration up to 18 months. While CHT would like to extend their length of stay options, they are limited by provincial legislation that puts limits on the length of time a program like this can house youth.
CHV: The length of stay at Covenant House Vancouver was recently increased from “one year with the possibility of extension to two years” to “up to the youth’s 25th birthday”. This means a youth could technically stay in the ROP program from the time they are 16 years of age up to 25 years of age. John Harvey, Director of Program Services, states that the previous average length of stay was 13 months. He thinks that a realistic estimate (based in part on the experiences of the Infinity Project in Calgary) that takes into account the extension is between two to three years.
Homeless Hub Thoughts:
Agencies setting up a similar program need to take a few factors into consideration when establishing duration of stay.
- What are the legislative guidelines that affect duration?
- How many spaces are available and does a longer stay reduce access for other youth? In other words – is it better to allow more youth shorter stays or fewer youth longer stays?
- What needs are the youth presenting with and are these issues going to require longer or shorter interventions?
- What other transitional housing programs exist in the community for the same population (if any)?
- What kinds of partnerships can be established to provide support to youth in the program that cannot be met in-house? For example, a mental health agency may be able to provide counselling and support services to a youth allowing him/her to remain in the program longer.