The Boys and Girls Club of Victoria is looking for families to open up their homes to at-risk youth, providing both a safe place to live and a much needed role model.
First implemented in 1996, the care home program services youth between the ages of 13 and 19 who are either sexually exploited, undergoing substance abuse counselling, involved in the youth justice system or at risk of becoming homeless.
Families can also provide semi-independent suites for young women who are pregnant or in the early stages of parenting.
Carol Hayhurst, a 71-year-old widow form Victoria, has been care home mother for six years, and has welcomed 20 kids into her home.
“A lot of the kids look up to you,” Hayhurst said. “You’re doing things that nobody’s done for them before – none of them have had easy lives, and you’re showing them that there’s a different way to live.”
Many of the children Hayhurst has taken into her home still remain a part of her life, despite moving on to have their own families. “Some of them even call me grandma,” she joked.
Though families are provided with compensations and receive the same training as foster parents – including mandatory monthly training on youth mental health and trauma – supervisor Erin Ewart said the care home program differs in several ways. Families care for only one youth at a time, for three to 12 months, and receive more interaction with youth workers and extended staff.
There are 23 homes in Victoria involved in the program, though the Boys and Girls Club is looking for five more. For more information or to apply, please contact Erin Ewart at 250-686-9114.