Shay Vanderschaeghe and her dog Lyric will be welcoming another LGBTQ youth to Haven group home later this month. (Photo contributed)

Clients accessing Red Deer group home

LGBTQ group home for children and youth

Alberta’s first group home for LGBTQ children and youth will have two clients by the end of the June.

Haven, operated by Heritage Family Services, opened in Red Deer earlier this year with one client from a small town in northern Alberta. That client only stayed a week before deciding Red Deer was too big a community.

“When you’re from a small town that’s really scary. We certainly understood where she was coming from,” said Shay Vanderschaeghe, program co-ordinator.

The latest client arrived two weeks ago. She is a permanent placement so she will live at Haven until she moves out on her own. The next client will arrive in about two weeks. Both are 16-year olds from northern Alberta.

The group home has bedrooms for three clients and is open to children and youth, age 12 to 17, from across Alberta as well as outside the province.

In November, the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate released its report – Speaking Out: A Special Report on LGBTQ2S+ Young People in the Child Welfare and Youth Justice Systems – recognizing the need for supportive living options for LGBTQ2S+ children and youth in foster care and group homes.

Vanderschaeghe said inquiries about the program have increased.

“The more people who hear about it, the more people are interested in it.”

Haven has a therapist on staff to work with clients.

“We’re always looking for staff who are interested in working with the LGBTQ community and who have experience in child and youth care, or transferrable experience.”

Anyone interested in working at Haven can call Vanderschaeghe at 403-340-9701.

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