Red Deer’s eight-bed youth emergency shelter has received a $25,000 windfall from the provincial government.
David Murphy, executive director of the local Youth and Volunteer Centre, called it a “nice gift” that can be used in many different areas.
“From a renovations point-of-view, the walls get pretty beat up so we could always use more paint and we could do the bathrooms . . . we’ve talked about staff training, and while the food budget is not bad, it could always use a little more,” Murphy said.
Murphy said the sum can be split between various projects. There are no spending stipulations, as long as the $25,000 benefits the shelter, which supports youth at risk.
“We don’t have to do fundraising, so it’s great,” he said, adding various priorities will have to be examined to decide how the money can most effectively be spent.
The sum is part of a one-time $200,000 grant that Children and Youth Services Minister Janis Tarchuk is dividing between eight youth shelters across the province, including two each in Edmonton and Calgary and shelters in Lethbridge, Grande Prairie and Medicine Hat.
The increase brings total government spending on youth emergency shelters in Alberta to $4 million this year.
The additional money will allow shelter staff to dedicate more time and resources to the youth they support, stated Tarchuk.
“This investment will support shelters in their work to provide youth in need with a safe and caring place, and help them connect with other resources in the community,” she added.
Red Deer’s Youth and Volunteer Centre runs the emergency shelter, as well as a 24-hour youth and family crisis line that gets about 3,000 call as year, and a youth drop-in centre. Murphy estimates his organization helps about 400 kids a year.
The provincial government’s Children and Youth Services and Housing and Urban Affairs Departments are reviewing how they can work with communities to better support youth in future.