Youth Reconnect (YR) is a community-based early intervention program that is designed to help young people (ages 13–24) who are at risk of or in the early stages of homelessness. The goal of YR is to help young people stay connected to their family, community and school, and to strengthen connections to natural supports in order to prevent and/or reduce the risk of homelessness. It builds on the practices of Family and Natural Supports (FNS) and is guided by the principles of Housing First for Youth (HF4Y) (Gaetz, 2017) but focuses upstream on providing school-based supports that keep young people in place, so that they can move forward with their life in a safe and planned way.
This model is based on the Australian Reconnect and the innovative Youth Reconnect program administered by RAFT Niagara. In both cases, outcomes for young people who took part in these early interventions improved in several key areas, including housing stability, enhanced family cohesion, and increased engagement with school (Mission Australia, 2016; Raft, 2014).
This document describes the key elements of the YR program model, including program elements and objectives, case examples of YR in practice, and necessary conditions for implementation. It is intended for communities who are interested in pursuing similar early intervention strategies. The key to success, regardless of the approaches taken, lies in building and nurturing community partnerships with service providers, educators, policy professionals, and young people.
- If you are a service provider… this guide outlines the core programmatic elements of YR based on lessons learned from practitioners and program evaluations.
- If you are an educator… this guide demonstrates the benefits that come from partnering with local service providers when trying to enhance outcomes for students.
- If you are a policy professional… this guide highlights the important community partnerships needed to design and implement early intervention programs in communities.
- If you are a young person… this guide reflects your feedback and suggestions for service and program improvement.