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B.C. grants $50K to strengthen New West youth social services team

The New West Safe Community Situation Table, which started in March, supports local at-risk youth with public safety and support services organizations.
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Vulnerable youth in New Westminster are set to receive health and social supports from a province-backed team of front-line workers that formed in March.

A team of service providers that launched its mission to help at-risk New Westminster youth in March is getting some extra funding from the B.C. government.

The Safe Community Situation Table recently received a $50,000 provincial grant to firmly establish its collaborative approach to help young people that could be harmed or victimized.

The group works with 18 local agencies, including Dan's Legacy Foundation, to identify and connect with vulnerable youth.

"Dan's Legacy strongly supports this collaborative approach to providing services to at-risk youth in the community and sees first-hand the positive outcomes for the youth when these services are streamlined and integrated," said executive director Barbara Coates in a news release on Thursday, April 18.

"Our outreach supervisor brings best practices knowledge to counselling and wraparound support services to the situation table, linking youth from participating agencies to Dan's Legacy's programs and vice versa."

Other sectors involved include police, mental health, education, victim services, and child and family services.

The table's ultimate goal is to identify and support young people who are experiencing acutely elevated levels of risk and harm, provide upstream prevention and intervention support tailored to meet individual and unique needs, as well as improve community safety and well-being.

"New Westminster is committed to promoting youth resiliency in our community," Lauren Mathias, program manager of New West's Building Safer Communities Program, told the Record.

"Subject to consensus, tables will ultimately mobilize immediate and multiagency supports, leading to connections to all essential services required to mitigate the evident risk factors, and to ensure improved pathways to care and support.

"The table is risk-driven as opposed to incident-driven, allowing the table to provide an opportunity to address situations of acutely elevated risk before incidents occur, supporting young people and improving community safety and well-being."

New West's table meets on a weekly basis to address issues pertaining to youth in the community who may be facing multiple risks that will result in harm to themselves, others or the community.

"Accessing co-ordinated care is a hurdle for too many of our youth leading to missed opportunities for support," said Jennifer Whiteside, New West MLA and B.C.'s minister of mental health and addictions.

"Seamless connection to the right resources at the right time is key to hope and brighter futures, and situation tables bring partners together to ensure no young person is overlooked."

Through the Safe Community Situation Table, according to the province, its team members are allowed to conduct the following:

  • proactively identify risks through real-time information sharing
  • reduce long-term demand on emergency and police resources
  • leverage and co-ordinate existing community assets and relationships between health supports, victim services, and culturally safe support and services
  • plan and deliver collaborative interventions before an incident occurs
  • reduce increased risk in people's lives

New Westminster's table is the latest of now 36 operating across B.C. since the program was introduced in 2018.

The provincial government said its provided more than $3 million in grant funding to facilitate the tables, as well as Indigenous intervention circles and other related initiatives.