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Supporting At-Risk and Sexually Exploited Youth in the Community

#NotInMyCity has always prioritized addressing the issue of sexual exploitation of children and youth in our community, and there’s been a lot of work happening behind the scenes in this area.

We have facilitated the development and implementation of a community response model in collaboration with a number of partner agencies, including Children’s Services, Calgary Police Service, Alberta Health Services – Addiction and Mental Health, Hull Services, McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association (McMan Calgary & Area) and Trellis.

The Community Response Model is a first step in bringing together a variety of systems and service providers to identify children and youth who are risk of, or involved in, sexual exploitation. They also quickly share critical and accurate information to provide appropriate interventions that address safety and meet the urgent needs of vulnerable children and youth.

Since its implementation in October 2020, the cross-agency collaboration has had a positive impact on 33 youth (including 15 at-risk and 18 sexually exploited youth) in Calgary and the surrounding area.

Now, with additional funding in place, #NotInMyCity is pleased to support McMan Calgary & Area to hire a Community Outreach Worker. Money for the outreach position and essential needs was received from the Canadian Women’s Foundation Safer and Stronger Grant Stream, with additional support from McMan to allow the position to be held for a full year.

Says Karin Matthiessen, Director of Services, McMan Calgary and Area, “We are excited to partner with #NotInMyCity to strengthen outreach supports for youth at risk of sexual exploitation. This work requires collective action and together we can leverage resources, reduce barriers, and mobilize connections in our community to prevent and disrupt sexual exploitation.”

The outreach worker will engage with youth who are at risk of or involved in sexual exploitation, while also steering the following key activities:

  • Working with McMan’s COPE program (Collaborative Outreach Preventing Exploitation) and other partner agencies to ensure a collaborative, client-centered approach to mitigating risk
  • Supporting inter-agency collaboration and individualized case management based on the unique needs and goals of each youth
  • Liaising with organizations that have specialized training and services for youth with various groups (for examples, LGBTQIA2+ serving organizations, urban and on-reserve indigenous service providers)
  • Connecting youth in rural locations and on reserves to services within their communities and in larger cities, where needed
  • Identifying, develop and facilitate education/awareness sessions relevant to various youth populations.

To date, the Community Response Model has achieved a number of strong outcomes, including:

  • Increased prioritization of case plans for youth entrenched in sexual exploitation and trafficking.
  • Improved referrals for substance use screening, assessment and treatment services, as well as preventative programming for at-risk youth.
  • Improved coordination of supports specific to males and LGBTQ2+ youth.
  • Increased support for parents and families of at-risk and exploited youth.
  • Increased support for other youth-serving organizations in Calgary.
  • Increased connection to police for assistance with legal issues.
  • Improved information sharing and data collection mechanisms.

#NotInMyCity would like to thank all of the partner agencies for their ongoing work, commitment and collaborative spirit. And a special thanks for support from the Calgary Children’s Foundation, McMan Calgary & Area and the Canadian Women’s Foundation.