Kris Fleckenstein, Youth HQ board chair, discusses his organization’s new Youth Needs Assessment Report released on Tuesday. (Photo by Susan Zielinski/Advocate staff)

Youth HQ identifies challenges for children and youth

New report to be shared with Red Deer and area

Easier access to services for youth and children, more awareness of available services, and financial support for families were key recommendations in a new Youth Needs Assessment Report released Tuesday by Youth HQ.

Kris Fleckenstein, Youth HQ board chair, said affordable and accessible transportation options for children and youth, more collaboration between community agencies, and easier access to mental health services were also recommended.

“If we can help address some of the needs for the youth I think we’re building a better future for tomorrow, for us tomorrow and the youth who are the adults of tomorrow,” said Fleckenstein after he presented the report to community members at Don Campbell School Community Space on Tuesday morning.

He said children, youth and families often have difficulty accessing mental health services or are not aware of how to access them.

“Services should be easy to access and be widely advertised. School staff should be properly educated so as to provide appropriate mental health information and referral to students and parents.”

Funded by Family and Community Support Services, the Youth HQ report is based on interviews and focus groups with youth and adults earlier this year. The report will be shared with community groups and local government, and will be used to develop Youth HQ’s master plan to guide the organization for the next five to 10 years.

The report identified a lack of parental support or limited parental involvement, sometimes due to working parents or single parent households, can lead to a lack of direction and discipline for children and youth.

Adults who were surveyed called for improved services for addiction including counselling and treatment facilities, and opportunities for life-skill training like cooking, problem solving, and job training.

A free youth centre with a variety of activities, and more arts and music programs were among the suggestions from youth.

Fleckenstein said a youth centre may bring everything together at one location, but it can make transportation a challenge.

He said funding will be necessary to move some of the recommendations forward but not all, for example tweaking a website to provide more information to youth.

“I think it’s a matter of rethinking how things are done currently and make sure we’re efficiently using resources properly.”

The Youth Needs Assessment Report will soon be available at youthhq.ca.

szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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