Once you have the infrastructure in place to develop the plan, you’re ready to begin. To help you frame the process, it is helpful to consider the policy development cycle. Like public policy, developing a plan to end youth homelessness involves research, analysis, consultation and synthesis of information. It should also involve an evaluation of implementation and course correction. You don’t have to go through these steps in sequence but consider each as complete the plan development process.
Figure 5: Policy Development Cycle
Likely, you’ve already identified youth homelessness as an issue and have a sense of what research is currently available. You may have conducted consultations to determine your community’s readiness to develop and implement a plan to end youth homelessness. Additionally, you may know what solutions the plan should include. An effective plan pulls this knowledge together into a coherent strategy – a strategy supported by community stakeholders.
In some cases, the process may seem to move in reverse, from solution development back to research and consultation. This is common and not a sign of failure; you should be prepared to go back to the drawing board as new information emerges or the community context shifts. You will also have to consider what resources you have to complete these various activities.
As you consult, develop a means to share findings with stakeholders. Develop a ‘what we heard’ document summarizing learning and implications. Present results through a community forum or by seeking written feedback on the ‘what we heard’ document.
An example from the Government of Alberta
Governments developing a youth plan may find it useful to consider the policy cycle process in Alberta. This comes from David French, manager, homeless supports initiatives, family violence prevention and homeless supports, Alberta Human Services who led the development of the Alberta Youth Plan (2014).