Bridging the Gap (BTG) strives to provide readily and easily accessible support for youth between the ages of 16-24 residing in the Halton Region who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless. Committed to fostering a youth-directed, strength-based approach to assisting youth in achieving their goals, BTG encourages partnerships with service providers in the Halton Region to maintain a positive, reputable, and constructive approach in our service to youth. On average 400 – 500 youth are served by Bridging the Gap annually.
We believe education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and abuse; increasing a child’s self-esteem, confidence, and ability to succeed. Since post-secondary education is not completely funded by the government, youth in care rely on student loans and part-time jobs to pay for any post-secondary education that might benefit them. Unlike their peers in the community, youth in care don’t have the support of family to help them manage their student debt. Since Halton CAS and CAFH believe strongly that education is the first step towards a brighter future we work together to make educational opportunities available to all youth in care. Since 1990 CAFH has supported more than 500 students in post-secondary programs.
This program assists children, youth and families who have experienced significant trauma and loss.
DREAMS Begin At Home provides basic needs and nurturing items like:
- Beds – new beds and bedding
- Welcome Kits – items for newborns and their caregivers
- Comfort Kits – gifts for special occasions and birthdays or to comfort during periods of transition
- Life-Start Kits – items for youth transitioning to independent living.
The Holiday DREAMS program supports children and youth year-round in multiple ways; birthdays, graduations, gift exchanges with siblings, a Thanksgiving dinner and reunion, back to school supplies and numerous incidental ways to celebrate life’s milestones. Of course, the busiest time of the year is October, November and December, when Staff and Volunteers lead the annual Holiday Dreams Community Giving Program providing gifts and support such as additional food and treats, and extra warm clothes for the winter.
All of these opportunities help to create warm, lifelong memories for those in need . . . a true gift.
The goal of the FUTURES Educational Program is to help youth receiving services from Halton CAS achieve their educational goals and support them as they transition into adulthood. Youth meet weekly to participate in a project-based learning series, working in teams to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, communication, social skills, academic learning, cultural awareness, and life skills. The program runs weekly throughout the school year and includes a summer camp component too. Summer camp provides memories that last forever and are experiences we want to offer children who can’t imagine this fun. Circumstances often preclude the children we serve from being accepted into community summer camps so we fundraise to ensure our camp will accommodate these strong and active children and youth who welcome the chance to experience some real joy.
Youth in Care are the future of this community; to help connect them to resources and better prepare for adult life we offer two key programs in support.
YouthSAID is an advocacy group led by youth in care for their peers; the Youth Collective Impact is a mentoring program with an aim to provide lifelong friendships while preparing participants for employment, education and training opportunities. These programs are helping keep youth in school, providing opportunities for growth and learning, networking and collaboration, all encouraging plans for a fresh start and brighter future. We’ve learned that introducing youth to these programs in their early teens helps them through a very vulnerable time in their lives and guides them to find the hope and inspiration everyone deserves.