Edmonton youth group home at centre of crime controversy closes its doors

An Edmonton group home for high-risk youth teens that was the subject of complaints about rowdy behaviour and crime is closing its doors for good.

EDMONTON — An Edmonton group home for high-risk youth teens that was the subject of complaints about rowdy behaviour and crime is closing its doors for good.

The home, run by a charitable group known as E4C, made headlines in September when one of its residents, a 17-year-old girl, was charged with stabbing a man to death on a nearby street.

After that, police and area residents said they had long complained that residents of the home were often out late at night, smoking drugs, banging on doors and damaging property.

Edmonton police Staff Sgt. Bill Clark said at the time he was “appalled” by the lax standards and supervision at the home.

E4C chief executive officer Karen Spencer said in a statement the decision to close is because recent publicity had made the home too well known, putting the residents at risk.

“The public identification of the location of this group home has placed youth at this site in a vulnerable position as it exposes them to those who prey on marginalized young people,” said Spencer.

The province shut down the home after the stabbing pending a review of operations.

That review, released Tuesday, determined that some staff weren’t clear on protocols designed to keep the teens safe, which led to “loose or broad application of rules that compromised structure.”

The report noted that as a result, “community members observed youth using drugs outside the group home.”

The report said the home met licensing and accreditation standards and that staff worked well with probation officers and other youth-serving agencies.

But it said staff seemed tone deaf to the rising number of concerns from area residents, adding that “the degree of opposition to the home was a disappointment to the agency management.”

E4C ran the home, known as the Inner City Youth Housing Project, under contract to the province.

It was for teens aged 14 to 17 with a history of traumatic experiences and exposure to crime who had been banned from other placements, such as in shelters or with families.

The home had five beds funded at about $400,000 a year.

Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir said his ministry will work to improve staff training and make sure the neighbours of group homes are heard through pacts known as “Good Neighbour Agreements.”

“That agreement encourages service providers to engage with the community where they are located, connect with the neighbours … (and) engage with them about their work (and) address their concerns,” said Sabir.

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