A first-of-its-kind home for LGBTQ+ children and youth in community care will be open in Red Deer before Christmas.
The final touches are being put on the house for the Haven program with Heritage Family Services, said Shay Vanderschaeghe, program co-ordinator.
“We hope to have the windows go in by next week,” Vanderschaeghe said on Friday.
Staff have already been hired and they have been trained or are just finishing up their training.
“We’re in the process of in-taking youth for a before-Christmas house opening,” she said.
Three bedrooms will be available for LGBTQ and two teens have already been chosen to be the first to enjoy the Haven program. One is a 15-year-old living north of Red Deer and the other is a 16-year-old who lives east of Edmonton.
One of the misconceptions about the program, which is aimed at youth from 12 to 17, is that is only meant for Red Deer youth, she said.
The home will have live-in team lead staff along with night staff to ensure there is someone awake at all times.
Three bedrooms are available for youth, another is for a therapist and the fifth is a staff bedroom.
The Christmas school break provides the perfect opportunity to allow the teens, who are moving to Red Deer, to get settled in.
“People will finish out their schooling wherever they live and then join us here in Red Deer,” she said.
A third person is expected to take a room early next year.
Haven offers a unique program, she said, “which is why we’re trying to keep it small, do it well and then go from there.”
Last month, the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate released Speaking Out: A Special Report on LGBTQ2S+ Young People in the Child Welfare and Youth Justice Systems.
It came with five recommendations, including the need for supportive living options for LGBTQ2S+ children and youth in foster care, group homes, custody centres and homeless shelters in Alberta.