Exit from where?
Approximately 500 youth leave the Child and Family Services system in Manitoba each year. Whether it’s because they have “aged out” (at 18, or older with an extension) or opted out at an earlier age, many of these young adults are left with few options once they leave care. Without a place to go, for many their path eventually ends up leading them to a lifestyle of couch-surfing and homelessness. As many as 43% of those experiencing homelessness have been in the child welfare system at one point or another.
A current program member says, “without Exit Up! I don’t know where I would be..”
Exit Up! aims to bridge the gap for Aboriginal young adults aged 18-25 who have left care and are seeking a supportive environment to explore the many opportunities available to them. Intake is done primarily through the referral of other child welfare serving agencies, as well as through self-referral by qualifying young adults.
Exit Up! launched in May 2014. The program is multi-faceted, enabling each individual to live interdependently with success. This is done through:
- housing – 3 phases with varied support
- capacity building – education and training, life skills development, and mentorship
- strengthening resilience – recovery from trauma, overcoming challenging barriers, and engaging in healthy coping strategies
The initial stage of housing for the program is at the Madison, Siloam Mission’s supportive housing development, with program members transitioning at their own pace to increasingly independent accommodation. Education and employment activities and locations will vary depending on the interests and needs of participants.