There's Room for Us to do Our Part
Host Homes Cowichan can only operate when generous, caring, self-sufficient individuals, couples, and families voluntarily participate by welcoming and integrating a homeless youth/young adult into their home for an extended time (a minimum commitment of six months, but with the possibility to extend longer). During this stay, the youth/young adult will be provided with a private room, a bed and bedding, access to amenities such as laundry, and an adult presence from whom they can receive valuable mentorship and learn life skills. Additionally, it will be required that there be enough food provided for three nutritious meals per day; however, while it is encouraged that the youth/young adult be included in any family meals, this food does not have to be prepared for the youth/young adult. The program does offer a monthly stipend to offset additional food and housing costs; however, this program is otherwise entirely voluntary. A base stipend is available through pilot funding with the possibility of additional funds depending on resources available and the needs of the youth/young adult.
The program begins when the host applies to the program (below). Upon review of the application, the host will then undergo an interview, criminal record check, and personal and professional reference check. A physical home inspection will also occur, and the host(s) must have liability insurance.
Once approved, host(s) will participate in a single day training on issues such as program reporter duties, cultural competency, conflict resolution, parenting versus mentoring, and trauma informed/PTSD training. This training is not meant to be exhaustive and it is not required that the host(s) be experts in these fields. The training is simply provided in order to create an appropriate awareness of where homeless youth/young adults may be coming from.
Once completed, the host(s) will next be contacted when a youth/young adult is interested in meeting. The meeting will involve the youth/young adult and the Care Coordinator, and will be an opportunity for the youth/young adult to get to know the prospective host(s) and vice versa. The youth/young adult will then decide whether to pursue the match, and, if chosen, the host(s) will then be offered the opportunity to accept or
reject with no impact upon future chances of being chosen as a host family.
Once both parties have agreed in principle, a meeting will occur with the Care Coordinator and Program Coordinator present, during which time the host(s) and youth/young adult will create a shared living agreement that covers such things as household culture, quiet hours, guests and chores, to name a few. This agreement can be terminated and the match ended at any point by either party if the situation is no longer working. At this time, the youth/young adult will also create a set of preliminary goals with the Care Coordinator to work toward during their stay, and may also choose whether to pursue family reunification through Host Homes Cowichan. A primary role of the host(s) is to help the youth/young adult celebrate any achievements, whether big or small, made toward these goals as a means to help reinforce positive behaviours.
Through our array of community partners, there are several resources available to host families as needed. Host(s) will also be able to contact the Care Coordinator through phone, text, or email during regular business hours. Additionally, there will be a peer host family support group where fellow host families can come together to share their experiences, learn form each other, and act as a support network for the duration of the match.
At the end of the match, host(s) will be asked to fill out an exit survey about their experience, exploring what worked and what could be improved upon to help improve the program. This is an especially important role during the initial pilot program as Host Homes Cowichan will be focused on determining what works best in making the matches as successful as possible.
We hope you might consider volunteering as a host family or sharing this information with anyone who might be interested. If you have any further questions, please contact Host Homes Cowichan at the email below.