October 16, 2020 at 12:00 p.m.
To our valued supporters:
I hope that you and your loved ones continue to be safe and well. We appreciate your continued support and well wishes—it means so much to our youth and staff. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts.
Here is an update to keep you informed about our site.
Temporary closure of the drop-in centre
A member of our drop-in centre staff has tested positive for COVID-19. The staff followed all the required protocols, and when they self-screened with symptoms, they self-isolated and went for testing. In following our strict protocols, we were able to avoid transmission to other staff.
In an abundance of caution, we decided to close the drop-in program for one week after a deep cleaning. Although not required by Toronto Public Health, we chose to respond in this manner to ensure everyone's health and safety.
Safeguarding our youth and staff
We continue to undertake measures to help protect the health and safety of youth and staff. This includes taking direction regarding best practices from local, provincial and federal health authorities and relying heavily on our health care team's in-house expertise.
We are screening all youth and staff before entering the building and referring them for COVID-19 testing, as appropriate.
All staff are required to use masks when they are in the presence of others, including in common areas. Youth are also required to wear masks while in the company of others.
Youth relocation to hotel space extended to April
Back in May, we relocated 38 youth from our crisis shelter to a downtown hotel to make physical distancing easier at our main site. Our goal was to find housing for the youth staying at the hotel, and we are pleased to announce that since the program opened, 28 of those youth have been successfully housed.
The City of Toronto, who is funding the program, has informed us that hotel operations have been extended to April 2021.
Thank you to those staff supporting operations at the hotel, including our health care team, which offers a weekly on-site clinic.
Research study looks at the impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable youth
Last week, we shared the findings of a recent study conducted by Dr. Naomi Thulien, assistant professor at McMaster University School of Nursing, and nurse practitioner at Covenant House Toronto; and Dr. Amanda Noble, Covenant House’s lead researcher. They surveyed social service staff across the country to learn how COVID-19 is affecting the mental health of youth experiencing homelessness.
According to the study, staff on the front lines are reporting higher instances of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and substance use among the youth they serve. As access to in-person supports has decreased across the sector due to physical distancing requirements, providers report that youth are experiencing increased isolation and loneliness. These findings are troubling and speak to the need to continually adapt our service delivery approach as the pandemic continues.
To learn more, click here.
Your support means everything during these trying times
Once again, I want to thank everyone in the community, including individuals, companies and family foundations who have provided financial support, food and masks to us. Your generosity and compassion are much appreciated.
Please check this page for future updates.