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A hub coming for Delta's youth

Community consultation in Delta found that young people desired increased services and youth-friendly public spaces
The city’s new Social Action Plan recommends collaborating with CYC members to identify possible sites, partners and operational and funding models to open a youth hub or other youth-centric services centre/model in Delta. Pexels/Pixabay

Should the City of Delta have a Foundry?

The B.C. government this week announced that it is accepting applications from communities around the province that are looking to establish a local Foundry centre. All non-profit and health and social-system organizations serving youth, including First Nations, Métis and urban Indigenous service providers, are eligible and encouraged to apply.

The province says Foundry services are a vital part of the health care system, provided by Providence Health Care, an affiliate of Vancouver Coastal Health.

In conjunction with the province, health authorities and community partners, the centres provide young people 12-to-24 and their caregivers free and confidential assistance to fit their unique mental-health and wellness needs. Services include mental-health and substance-use support, physical and sexual health care, peer support and social services. For those who cannot visit a centre in person, Foundry services can be accessed virtually.

Ten communities will be selected through the application process, adding to the 16 current centres and another nine in development. The province will provide annual funding for municipalities for operations and services, as well as one-time funding of $1.5 million to establish them.

Three years ago, the Delta Child and Youth Committee (CYC), a group of non-profit, government and community agencies and organizations that collaborate to improve the lives of children, youth and families, proposed a centre be established in Delta.

A report at the time to city council by the committee, which receives annual funding from several sources including from the Delta’s social planning budget, listed several initiatives including putting forward the idea of having a youth Foundry to provide “a one-stop-shop” to access mental health care, substance use services, primary care, social services and youth and family peer supports.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and Boy’s and Girl’s Club (BGCBC) would be co-leads in the Delta application.

“CYC members came together to jointly support one provincial application for a Foundry. It was agreed by all stakeholders that the application would have co-leads (CMHA and BGCBC). There was a spirit of positive collaboration and doing what was best for Delta around the table. The expression of interest was not approved, but the membership is interested in pursuing other avenues to have a space for youth in Delta,” the CYC report noted.

“Due to the relationships built through the CYC, we were able to convene the key stakeholders and jump into planning quickly and effectively,” the report added.

Among the strategic priorities in Delta’s new Social Action Plan, endorsed by council earlier this year, is to improve local access to mental health and harm reduction services to youth at risk, as well as access to child and youth programs and services that promote their healthy development.

While establishing a Foundry wasn’t specifically recommended in the plan, the city is moving toward meeting another strategic priority to improve Delta’s youth sense of belonging and access to services and public places.

One of the recommendations is for the city to collaborate with CYC members to identify possible sites, partners and operational and funding models to open a youth hub or other youth-centric services centre/model in Delta “to develop a more holistic approach to address youth needs in Delta.”

The recommendations also include collaborating with CYC members to increase the types of recreational and other programming for youth that support a sense of belonging and the transition into adulthood, as well as collaborating with community and government partners to increase teen and youth programs and services in North Delta in particular, with a focus on vulnerable populations.

Among the findings during community consultations was a desire to have youth-friendly spaces where youth can hang out.

“We heard directly from Delta youth that they would like: more fun outdoor public spaces; opportunities to learn life skills; more sports and recreation activities; more indoor spaces to get together; and more accessible counselling services,” a staff report notes. “Delta’s Social Action Plan includes 27 actions to increase access to child and youth programs that promote healthy development, and to improve the sense of belonging of Delta’s youth and access to services and public places in Delta.”

The report also notes that Delta staff are working with community partners through the CYC to explore opportunities to establish a youth hub.

The city earlier this advertised that it was looking for 10 young people to join a Youth Advisory Group to support developing a model for the youth hub in Delta.