United Way of Calgary and Area and Burns Memorial Fund are pleased to release Working with Vulnerable Youth to Enhance their Natural Supports: A Practice Framework.
Natural supports are relationships and associations informally and locally developed and include family, friends, neighbours, coaches, teammates, and others who comprise our social networks.
Research clearly shows the connection between positive natural supports and healthy youth development. Natural supports play a critical role in promoting youth resiliency, social integration, and positive development. They also contribute to a youth’s recovery and growth process, reduce psychological stress, and help vulnerable youth successfully transition to adulthood.
Professional supports, while important, aren’t sustainable. Programs end, professionals change jobs, and youth age out of services. An over-reliance on professional supports ultimately increases vulnerability.Through utilizing the practice framework in working with youth, we work towards empowering youth to rely on and contribute to a life-long network of supportive family, community and peer relationships.
This framework document is meant to be a practical tool for the many agencies working with vulnerable youth. We still have a lot to learn and the framework will evolve as we all work with it. We hope it will guide our collective work and offer a strong foundation for capacity building.
This framework is the culmination of two years of work with 13 dedicated community partners, known as the Change Collective. The members of the Change Collective worked tirelessly over the past two years to develop this framework. Their knowledge and skill working with vulnerable youth, candidness in sharing their experiences, and openness to significant practice change were crucial in the development of the framework. Our partners and co-authors are:
- The Alex
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area
- Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary
- Calgary and Area Child and Family Services
- Calgary Fetal Alcohol Network
- Calgary John Howard Society
- Calgary Sexual Health Centre
- Catholic Family Service
- Hull Services
- Parent Support Association
- Wood’s Homes
Thank you to our writer and facilitator Elizabeth Dozois of Word on the Street Ltd. and our developmental evaluator, Melissa Innes of MPI Associates.