September 19, 2012

Off The Shelves: Services for Street-Involved Youths

There’s so much great research done by students in our academic institutions that too often never gets beyond the library shelf – or the digital equivalent.  Why not at least give a teaser and a link to some of these theses and papers being done here at SFU (and other schools) when they’re touching on issues relevant to Vancouver?

So here’s the first: from Diana Guenther – BSc, MSc MURB (candidate).

Services for Street-Involved Youth in Vancouver:

Having worked in the social service sector for nearly 20 years and in three different countries, I’ve always been quite puzzled about the services for at risk and street-involved youth in Vancouver. Services seemed fragmented, semi-professionalized, privatized/contracted out to the non-profit sector and not adequately funded..

I researched the following questions;

·  What is the social problem labeled street youth and how has the issue changed over the decades?

·  What is the service delivery model of this sector and how has the model changed over the decades?

·  Who are the important stakeholders in the sector – are they able to influence policy-making?

The most pertinent finding of my research was that there is a fragmentation of stakeholder voice.  Many important stakeholders who were knowledgeable about street youth issues (impacted youth and families, frontline professionals, communities etc.) simply have no voice in the policy arena. The feedback loop has been disconnected. The democracy deficit in this sector was related to the restructuring of the sector along neoliberal lines (e.g. privatization, contracting out, business model logic, cuts, centralized policy-making and decentralized service delivery etc.).

The full text of this project can be found here: How have neoliberal shifts from the 1980s to the present day in social welfare delivery changed the services provided to street youth in Vancouver?

Related policy suggestions/discussion can be found at the CCPA Blog.

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