The Region of Peel’s guiding vision is to create a Community for Life – a place where everyone enjoys a sense of belonging and has access to the services and opportunities they need to thrive throughout each stage of their lives. As part of that vision, and our commitment to help lift Peel residents out of poverty, we created a dedicated team within the Ontario Works portfolio to provide integrated services for youth.
Each year in Peel, approximately 3000 youth apply for Ontario Works benefits. There are many factors that lead youth to require social assistance and support including:
Across Ontario, homelessness and unemployment among youth are at record levels and each year more than 1000 youth age out of the state guardianship program, (Doucet, 2018) leaving them without finances or the support they need to survive. The recent sharp increase in the cost of living only serves to exacerbate the many challenges facing youth.
The Peel Youth Caseworker Team serves people 14 to 29 years old who are experiencing complex barriers and living in poverty. Through this passionate and committed team, youth receive specialized case management and access to community services, housing support, mental health support, life skills development, education, and employment opportunities.
Although the creation of this team happened in 2019, it dovetails nicely with the Province’s new vision for social assistance:
To create an efficient, effective and streamlined social services system that focuses on people, providing them with a range of services and supports to respond to their unique needs and address barriers to success so they can move towards employment and independence.
Peel’s Youth Caseworker Team provides important support and connections for young people including:
Youth experiencing multiple complex barriers are provided with intensive case management and stability supports to increase their employment opportunities and self-sufficiency. By using a flexible and personalized approach when working with youth and their support system, the Youth Caseworkers support clients to achieve their goals and identify barriers such as homelessness, mental health, employment, education, and skills development.
The Youth Caseworker Team works in partnership with community agencies, housing providers, health services, school boards, trusteeship programs and others to ensure youth get the specific wrap-around care services they need. Here are a few examples:
It isn’t just the staff, support and community partnerships that make this program special - it’s the approach which aims to help youth be successful by meeting them where they are and adapting to what they need. The Peel Youth Caseworker Team understands the importance of delivering supports and services in a way that engages and respects them and their unique needs. Peel youth receive compassionate, specialized and flexible case management and stability supports to increase their employment opportunities and help them move out of poverty and towards greater independence and self-sufficiency. In this brief video, Robin Saunders, one of our youth caseworkers talks about our tailored and one of the many success stories we’ve seen.
Dawn Fullington is the Manager of the Youth Caseworker Team. She has been with the Region of Peel for more than 24 years and in that time has contributed greatly to improving client experience. Dawn, who previously held positions as an assessment worker and caseworker, has been in leadership roles for more than 13 years. She has extensive knowledge of human services programs and legislation and has proven her ability to develop and implement operational improvements to meet outcomes and support transformational initiatives. Dawn is a passionate advocate for vulnerable populations and a true champion for continuous improvement.