Families Open Doors to Youth in Need Valley Mom If youth are the future, there is at least one organization here in the Valley helping to ensure the outlook is a bright one. At PLEA, special attention is given to ensuring youth receive the necessary care and support to overcome challenging situations and become positive members of the community. One of the many ways it does this is through its youth residential programs, which places young people between the ages of 12 and 19 years old in nurturing family environments, where they can benefit from the structure of daily routines, while also accessing services specific to their individual needs. With an average age of 16 years old, most of the youth in the program are in need of a stable, healthy living environment while they try to overcome challenges in their lives. Each youth has a multi-disciplinary team that helps co-ordinate support, services and resources available to both the youth and the family housing him or her. It is this high level of support extended to caregivers that sets PLEA’s program apart from foster care. Each family has a single point of contact at the organization who is available 24 hours a day, as well as access to PLEA-approved respite when they need a break. Having provided residential care services for more than 30 years, PLEA has seen firsthand how successful the family-setting model can be. And it wouldn’t be possible without the generosity, thoughtfulness and heart of the caregivers who open their homes. Those who choose to take on the role come from a wide range of backgrounds and skill levels. In fact, it’s this level of diversity that allows PLEA to select the most optimal matches for youth and families. Despite the variety of personalities, however, there are a few things all caregivers have in common: enthusiasm to work with young people, a desire to make a difference and an ability to communicate with others. And, with a monthly waitlist of around 15 youth, the organization is always looking for likeminded people to join its ranks. The minimum requirements are that caregivers are more than 21 years of age, are legally eligible to work in Canada, are financially stable, are able to provide each youth with his or her own bedroom, are able to provide three references, are able to provide a medical report from their doctor, have no more than five children/youth living in the home, and have no international students or clients from other agencies living in the home. By opening their doors, caregivers – who are compensated on a per diem basis – can help change a life from the comfort of their own home. The program is just one of many ways Valleyites can lend a helping hand in the community through PLEA. The organization also offers volunteer mentoring, as well as annual promotional and fundraising events. Coming up this month (September) is KidStart Community Day, at which the public can enjoy a fun-filled day of activities and prizes while learning about the mentoring program for children six and younger. In October, Whistler Run will see a relay team help raise money for PLEA’s holiday hampers. Creating meaningful connections in the community is what makes this organization an invaluable asset to the Valley and beyond. To apply to be a family caregiver with a youth residential program, contact PLEA’s Family Recruiting Team at 604-708-2628 or firstname.lastname@example.org For more information about PLEA, its services, volunteer opportunities and upcoming events, visit www.plea.ca This is an excerpt from the article Families Open Doors to Youth in Need which originally appeared on http://www.valleymom.ca.