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Dufferin Mall Youth Services Trouble Update and Request for Support

posted June 14, 2007

We received this letter from Dufferin Mall Youth Services, in the Dufferin Mall right next to the park:

Dear DMYS friends and partners,

It is with sadness that I relate the current state of Dufferin Mall Youth Services (DMYS). DMYS has been in operation for 13 years. During that time we have helped thousands of young people find work, receive counselling, locate housing, offered support, provided a safe space to be themselves, and have been there when often no one else was.

After all this time DMYS is at risk of closing.

When DMYS started it was a partnership of 12 different organizations. Each organization contributed money and or staff. Stewardship of the program rotated through the different partner agencies in two-year cycles. Due to fiscal cuts in social service spending during the mid- late ‘90’s and into the turn of the millennium, many of our partners could no longer afford to contribute financially. About 5 years ago Turning Point Youth Services (TPYS) agreed to take over operation of DMYS. TPYS is an accredited Children's Mental Health Centre with residential, community, and outpatient services.

DMYS has never received sustainable funding from any government source. TPYS has been carrying the financial costs of keeping DMYS open since they took over operations. Despite the recent 5% increase in provincial funding for children's mental health, TPYS continues to experience service and fiscal pressures. DMYS is an example of these pressures that the Agency can no longer continue to absorb. It costs approximately $150,000 a year to operate DMYS. This does not include in-kind contributions from Dufferin Mall and our other partner agencies that provide counsellors. DMYS served close to 1000 youth in 2006. We’ve had 369 individuals access our services in the first 5 months of 2007 and we average 469 visits a month (many people come multiple times a month). Quite clearly there is a demand for DMYS. All this is done with only two full time staff members and five counsellors, four of whom are here a day week and one who is here a full day once a week (the full-time counsellor is also from TPYS).

Because of the increased financial pressures we are forced to make several changes to DMYS. Starting Tuesday, July 3^rd we are going to alter our hours from 8 hours a day, five days a week; to 5 hours a day 5 days a week. Our new hours will be 2:00-7:00pm Monday to Thursday and 1:00-6:00pm Friday. This will allow us to continue our Monday to Thursday counselling in the evenings. We will continue to offer walk-in counselling with hours posted each month in the calendar. The new hours will remain until there is a significant change in our funding situation.

We are also going to be making some changes to staffing over the next several months. Aliya will be working Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 2:00-7:00 until August 3rd . She will then be leaving DMYS to pursue a Masters Degree in Counselling. Wolfgang will also be leaving DMYS; his last day will be Friday, July 13^th . Anita, who is our new employment/BARE counsellor, will be here until the end of summer. We are going to start transitioning new staff into DMYS starting this month.

While these changes are happening, we are engaged in a variety of funding efforts. We have submitted a proposal to the Provincial Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) and they have agreed to review it. In addition to this we will be connecting with people in the private sector to look at other funding avenues. This is where we would like your support. We are looking for letters from our friends, partners, and those who have used our services. I am attaching two letter templates, one for agencies who refer youth to us specifically for counselling, the second for people who refer youth to us for any other reason. There is a place in each of these letters for you to add your own stories about how DMYS has had a positive impact with those you serve. We encourage you to take a few minutes then fax and/or mail us back your letter (postal address below). We will be collecting these and submitting them to those we are asking for funding from. We also encourage letters from youth and family members who have accessed our services. We are happy to help people write these letters. We will also have a petition here at DMYS for people to sign.

We are hopeful that the Provincial Government will come through with core funding before the election in the fall. In this time of ongoing discussion about programs for young people, regular media attention about a lack of services, and concern about violence against and by young people; does it make sense to close a program that has been effective for thirteen years? From a purely fiscal perspective the cost of approximately $150 per person per year is a fraction of the $65, 000-$75, 000 a year it costs to pay for a young person in custody. And what are the emotional costs of losing a safe place that supports and aids young people before, during, and after difficult times? Please help DMYS stay viable for at least another thirteen years.

Wolfgang

Dufferin Mall Youth Services
900 Dufferin St. Suite 103
Toronto, ON.
M6H 4A9

Turning Point Youth Services
95 Wellesley St. East
Toronto, ON
M4Y 2X9

Wolfgang Vachon
Program Supervisor
Dufferin Mall Youth Services
Tel-(416) 535 1140
Fax-(416) 535 9212

If you wish to send letters of support for this organization, they have sent some suggested text: LetterFromDMYSPartners-2.doc LetterFromDMYSPartners-2.doc


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