Creative planning to provide a sense of belonging and independence for resilient youth

One aspect of Raman’s work is helping youth transition to adult housing services and finding places that are the right fit for their needs. This requires taking things on a case by case basis and time to learn about that particular person.

“You never know what you’re really getting on paper versus what we see in person,” says Raman. “Their needs and what they communicate to us may be different. So it’s going with the flow and then having to change course, multiple times sometimes.”

She recalls one youth who was difficult to connect with and would not engage with their outreach efforts. This youth was actively engaging in drug use, street entrenched, disengaged with services and fled her living situation frequently. This youth was at an age where she would be transitioning to adult services. Raman and the team agreed that independent living would not be best for them. Instead, they managed concurrent planning between their cluster program and homeshare. This would allow them to place her in an adult home before she aged out of the youth program, but also maintain the care providers who knew her and could advocate for her during the transition. Repetition and consistency, Raman says, helped the client start to feel more comfortable in her living situation.

“Once you became a familiar face, she was more likely to engage,” says Raman. “Even if they weren’t able to see her or talk to her, at least she could recognize they were there for support, not as someone monitoring her. Just that the support is available to them and ready.”

The staff involved were all aware of the other programs and supports they were collaborating with. They could therefore allow for more flexible and thoughtful care for the youth. These actions supported the youth’s independence and created a sense of belonging for her through consistent and accountable staff presence. She recognized that people were there to help her. She felt comfortable accessing care that helped her grow to the point where she could move into independent living. They even gave her the opportunity to choose which care provider she would live with. They respected her decision to go with one that was close to her street family, a tight knit community that also gives her support.

“You have to let them know you’re not going to give up on them,” says Raman. “When you’re working with so many different agencies, I think just being able to communicate and stay consistent really goes a long way.”

Collaborating with other service providers, empowering her to make her own choices, creating safe space, building relationships based on trust and respect are all elements of trauma-informed practices.