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Youth resiliency worker responsibilities to be dealt with in-house in Wellington North

by Mike Robinson

KENILWORTH - Despite a falling out of support from its partners, Wellington North remains committed to youth engagement and outreach.

Following a Feb. 4 report from economic development officer Dale Small, Wellington North supported a staff recommendation to bring the responsibilities of the community youth resiliency worker in-house.

The decision comes in the wake of the resignation of Gabby Ieropoli.

In 2015, Alison Vasey, community youth resiliency worker (CYRW), provided council with an overview of the newly formed community coalition (North for Youth) across north Wellington, which is focused on improving positive development, resiliency and civic engagement in youth.

“Since that time, we have been very pleased with the progress that has been made in the area of youth engagement including the creation of our Wellington North Youth Action Council (YAC),” stated Small.

In January 2018 Gabriella Ieropoli, the community youth resiliency worker, provided an update to council on the overall “North for Youth” program.

During this update councillors were also advised that the three-year Ontario Trillium Funding that had been received to launch the program in 2015 was coming to an end.

“In order to maintain the momentum that had been created” the Mount Forest Family Health Team (MFFHT), Town of Minto, Township of Mapleton and Township of Wellington North came together and established a partnership to ensure the continued employment of a CYRW, Small explained.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was prepared that outlined the scope, annual budget, responsibilities, etc. and Wellington North council, along with partners Minto and Mapleton, approved the MOU and a $13,000 financial contribution in May 2018.

The most recent update to council came last September at a joint economic development committee meeting with Minto and Mapleton,  which included “presentations by our Youth Action Councils who talked to us about their many success stories,” said Small.

He added, all three municipalities were in agreement and proud of the energy and attention placed on engaging youth.

On Jan. 10, all partners were notified that CYRW Ieropoli was resigning effective Jan. 25.

“Ieropoli has secured employment closer to home with KidsAbility and is looking forward to this new challenge,” said Small.

“As a result of this the partnership met to discuss next steps and during these discussions it became clear, that for a variety of reasons, the other three partners wished to terminate the partnership and not move forward with the recruitment of a shared CYRW.”

Small indicated he understood the position of the various partners was as follows:

- MFFHT intends to utilize the $13,000 to fund other social/health related programs;

- Mapleton plans to remove the $13,000 in funding from its budget; and

- Minto intends to keep the $13,000 and use existing staff to support youth programs.

“From a Wellington North perspective, we are disappointed that our partners have taken this opportunistic approach to terminate the partnership,” stated Small.

Referencing Doug Griffiths and his “13 Ways to Kill Your Community,” Small noted one way is to “not engage your youth.”

In his report, Small stated “we believe that over the past five years we have made great strides in the area of youth engagement.”

He added, “the decisions made by our partners are their decisions and we will need to move on and come up with our own plan to ensure youth programs and youth engagement receive the attention they deserve in Wellington North.

“In this regard, at least in the short term, our intent is to use existing Wellington North staff to pick up and support the key youth-related programs that had been supported by the CYRW.”

Some of the CYRW responsibilities that will not be picked up by staff include support to HOPE committee, Safe Communities, suicide awareness/Safe Talk, self-harm, Rural Youth Homelessness, Transitions Youth Network, etc.

Mayor Andy Lennox said he was surprised by the decisions made by the program’s other partners, but locally, the intent is to offer continued support and outreach to the youth of the community.

Funding

Small explained the  $13,000 in funding to support the CYRW has been included in the economic development 2019 operating budget and is to be used to support staff members picking up the leadership role for programs.

 

February 8, 2019

 
 

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