Safe Haven Youth Services Participant Handbook
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Safe Haven Youth Services Participant Handbook

Safe Haven Youth Services provides a safe, supportive and caring place for up to 10 youth between the ages of 12-18 who need emergency shelter and support, or planned respite care.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this Safe Haven Youth Services Participant Handbook

Safe Haven Youth Services offers a safe alternative to living on the street and planned respite services. Serving the unique needs of vulnerable young persons between the ages of 12 and up to their 18th birthday. The program offers immediate admission and services on a 24-hour a day, 7 day a week basis.

While you are participating in a Safe Haven Youth Services Program, you can expect:

  • A safe and caring environment, including shelter, food, clothing, laundry and shower facilities and access to medical care.
  • Program opportunities to develop necessary life skills, social skills, self esteem building, emotion management and health and wellness.
  • Recreational opportunities.
  • The expectation to attend school during the school year.
  • Supports to attend school and community activities.
  • Facilitation of a Discharge Planning Meeting where staff will work with you and your family to develop strategies, safety plans, and effective coping methods to help you reintegrate into your home more effectively.
  • Staff may also recommend further services that may be beneficial to you and your family with links to other youth and family supports and services.

Plan of Action: Upon admittance you will complete an intake form with staff. Through the intake form, a plan of action will be created outlining your needs. Through this plan of action, a discharge plan will be created.

Education: You will be required to attend your community school. Bus tickets will be provided if you do not have a bus pass. Youth that are suspended will require alternative day time arrangements as Safe Haven does not provide a day program.

Programming: We offer programming while you are residing at Safe Haven. Programming topics may include emotion management, life skills; including helping you built the skills to advocate for yourself, especially when dealing with interpersonal conflict or with issues that are emotionally charged. Staff are responsible to ensure that your concerns are clearly and accurately communicated in writing and that you are able to access external support at any time throughout the process.

Individual & Family Counselling: Staff may refer to outside recourses that may provide individual and family therapy.

Community Involvement: Staff often include the use of community resources on a group and individual basis (e.g., outings to recreation centres, movies) as part of our program. You may also remain involved in your current community activities (e.g., sports teams, clubs).

Specialized Accommodations: Staff recognize and will make accommodations for any unique needs (spiritual / religious, ethno-cultural and dietary). In certain cases, we will seek outside resources if we are unable to provide the type of accommodation required internally.

Housing Plans: If you are over the age of 16 and are unable to return home, a housing plan will be developed. This will include the use of assessment tools (SPDAT) and the possible involvement of community resources.

Video surveillance is in effect. Video feed is recorded and kept for a 7-day period and then erased by “over recording” with surveillance from another day. Cameras placed outside are positioned to monitor the parking lot and access to the building to provide for increased personal safety for clients and staff.

An internal camera is used to monitor the shelter hallway, and is positioned in such a fashion that it is not able to monitor the inside of any bedroom in the shelter. There is no video surveillance in any washroom or change room.

Security and Emergency Systems

To ensure the safety and security of clients, staff and other visitors at the 41 Weber site, an emergency response plan is in place to respond to emergency situations including Evacuation, Severe Weather and Tornados, Bomb Threat, Hostage Situation, Major Disturbance, Utility Outage and Lockdown. These procedures are overseen by Lutherwood Leadership and the Joint Health and Safety Committee and are in compliance with fire code and licensing requirements. Clients and staff are oriented to these procedures and drills are practiced based on emergency preparedness training.

Lockdown Drills

As is the practice in all Waterloo Region schools, a lockdown is used to secure the 41 Weber site and protect all occupants from life-threatening-violence that requires everyone to find a safe place to hide out-of-sight. Lockdown drills help to keep staff and clients safe, just as drills are done for other emergencies such as fire and tornados. The goal of a lockdown drill is for participants to practice moving rapidly to the closest room where a door can be closed and locked regardless of the circumstances. Lockdown drills will be no longer than five minutes in duration to minimize anxiety for participants. The needs of current children and youth will be identified ahead so that individual preparation and support can be planned for. Staff will be trained on the lockdown procedure during their initial orientation and annually as part of emergency preparedness training. Lockdown drills will be scheduled twice a year in the early Fall and Spring. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Program Manager

At Lutherwood, we believe that you are able to increase appropriate behaviour and learn from a situation with the support and guidance of staff and with programming opportunities.

Below are the interventions we use at Lutherwood to support clients who are having difficulty managing their behaviours:

1. Verbal Interventions

  • Asking youth to stop what they are doing;
  • Inquiring about the situation by setting a time to talk immediately or later;
  • Problem solving a plan that will help the next time a similar situation arises;
  • Providing cues that the behaviour is not appropriate;
  • Providing calming strategies;
  • Cueing and coaching to use emotion regulation and other skills;
  • Requesting the youth leave the group/activity to do something independently;
  • Support in “taking space” and planning how to rejoin the group when the issue is successfully resolved either independently or with staff support;
  • Facilitating group discussions related to managing difficult situations.

2. Responsibilities of Youth

  • Responsible to know the rules of the program;
  • Responsible for choices made regarding following the rules;
  • Responsible to respect other people’s rights;
  • Accept the consequences of your actions.

Everyone has a responsibility to respect the rights of others—to treat others as they wish to be treated.

As a safe place for all young persons, Safe Haven does not tolerate inappropriate, intimidating, threatening, aggressive, assaultive and/or bullying behaviour that may be physically or verbally displayed.

In order to participate in Lutherwood programs, Clients must sign a Service Agreement that confirms:

  1. They wish to receive service from Lutherwood
  2. Service is voluntary
  3. They understand the agreement clearly.

This agreement clearly outlines Lutherwood’s responsibilities and commitments to our clients, as well as client responsibilities while participating in our programs.

At any time, for any reason, service may be stopped by the client. If we are concerned that the agreement is not being maintained, we will contact you and ask for your continued commitment to the program. Should you not wish to provide it, we can assume that you are withdrawing your voluntary consent to participate in the program.

If there is any confusion or lack of clarity, do not hesitate to ask questions and share your concerns with us.

If you are under 16 years of age both you and your parent(s)/caregiver(s) will be required to give consent to enter service voluntarily. If consent is not given by both you and your parent, we will try to assist in problem-solving and finding a resolution. In some instances, there are steps that may be taken when parents see a clear need to obtain help for their child and the child is unwilling.

If you are over the age of 16 years and wish individual service without family involvement, this can be provided and your wishes respected.

To provide crisis, respite and shelter services designed for you, we need to collect practical and personal information about you. We ask about your current and past health and wellness. This includes physical and mental health, education, family history and other services that have or are supporting you. We use this information for the purpose of assessment, action planning, discharge planning and safety planning. Sometimes this information is used to connect you with other community services that can help support you along your journey.

We receive government funding to offer these programs and services in our community. Our funder requires us to report non-identifiable aggregate (just numbers) data so they can monitor the quality of services being provided. Our funder also collects personally identifiable information about you if we must report on a serious occurrence.

Lutherwood is committed to protecting the privacy of the personal information of its clients. You can learn more on our Privacy and Confidentiality page.

Your Rights

While receiving services from Lutherwood, every family and youth has given rights. Your participation is protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and all these guarantee your:

  • Right to legal counsel
  • Right to be informed
  • Right to be heard
  • Right to voice concerns or complaints
  • Right to know of the Office of Child & Family Service Advocacy
  • Right to know your responsibilities in the program
  • Right to know about rules and disciplinary practices
  • Right to receive appropriate nutrition
  • Right to appropriate clothing
  • Right to participate in recreational activities
  • Right to receive and participate in an appropriate education, training or work program
  • Right to receive medical and dental care
  • Right to privacy of mail
  • Right to religious practice
  • Right to privacy
  • Right to personal property
  • Right to visits with family
  • Rights of communication
  • Right to a plan of care/reintegration plan
  • Right to be free from corporal punishment

Your rights regarding participation in Lutherwood’s program or service will be reviewed with you, and/or your parent(s)/guardian(s) during the intake process. These rights include:

  1. Recognizing that the service is voluntary and giving your consent to the service. Consent means that you clearly understand all aspects of the service.
  2. You have the right to participate in designing your Action Plan including setting plans of action, strategies and time limits.
  3. You have the right to be informed of any information, decisions and actions that will affect you.
  4. You have the right to participate in all decision making relevant to you.
  5. You have the right to review and, if necessary, correct Agency information your file/record.

Your Responsibilities

The following is a list of responsibilities that will help you get the most out of your experience while participating in our programs and services:

  • Let us know your needs in the most accurate and complete way possible so we can provide the most appropriate service options.
  • Be respectful of other clients, volunteers, students, staff and property.
  • Contact us when you’re unable to keep appointments or to notify us of any change of address or other information relevant to treatment.
  • Inform us of health and safety concerns and any accommodation required.
  • Provide feedback on services and programs.
  • Understand and follow the terms of the Service Agreement.

As is the case with any service, there are benefits and possible risks that you may experience while participating in one of our programs.

In the course of making changes, difficult topics may need to be addressed and there may be distressing emotions and reactions that come along with that. You may experience an increase in negative behaviours during this time including resistance, self-harm and uncooperative or disruptive behaviours. Every effort will be made to support you during difficult and challenging periods.
If you or your family refuse supports or withdraw from the program early, the conflicts and concerns that brought you to Lutherwood are likely to continue.

Program interventions and participation in services will offer you a unique opportunity to observe and practice new skills, learn about social norms and improve on relationships at home, in the community and with your peers. While participating in this program or service you may discover new ways of relating to yourself and/or your family that may help resolve the challenges that brought you to Lutherwood.

If you have concerns and feel that they are not being addressed, we want to know and are committed to resolving all complaints through the Client Complaint Procedure.

Lutherwood’s Community Advisory Committee is a small, informal group that offers constructive feedback to Lutherwood on ways to enhance the quality of its mental health services. We value the unique perspectives of the parents of our youth or adult past participants of one of our programs or services. For more information or to get involved, contact our Director of Mental Health Services.

Our services are expanding with culturally aware staff and we continually educate ourselves on the diverse needs of our community. We invite you to read more about Lutherwood, our Mission, Vision and Values, and about our commitment to Anti-Racism and Land-Acknowledgement throughout our website.

Our tagline is our commitment to you: Caring People. Strengthening Lives.