Southwestern Ontario Recipients of Local Poverty Reduction Fund Grants
Ontario's Local Poverty Reduction Fund provides funding to support and evaluate community-driven poverty reduction initiatives and to build a body of evidence pertaining to effective poverty reduction programs.
Ontario is supporting the following eight initiatives in Southwestern Ontario that prevent or reduce poverty for children and families. Evidence gathered from these programs will inform future decisions about policy design and program delivery for both the province and local communities.
Literacy Link South Central
Literacy Link South Central will help immigrants, persons with disabilities and young men who are not in school or training navigate local supports and services and transition participants into the workforce toward financial independence. With support from the Local Poverty Reduction Fund, the organization will work with different service providers to connect individuals to the programs and services they need, including literacy upgrading, employment services and apprenticeships.
"Our abilities, as adult literacy programs, lie in the area of raising skills. But sometimes simply raising skills is not enough. After much discussion, our local literacy groups realized we couldn't make the impact we wanted to make on our own. To really support people who are living in poverty, we need to leverage supports from other systems - supports related to the labour market, employment, persons with disabilities and apprenticeship."
-- Tamara Kaattari, Executive Director, Literacy Link South Central
London Family Court Clinic
The London Family Court Clinic's project addresses a gap in services for London's youth by providing specialized supports for young people who are involved with the justice system. The program's goal is to improve school attendance, employment rates and mental health in order to reduce crime rates among youth and help get their lives back on track.
"Poverty is one of the most significant factors impacting the youth and families we've been serving for the past 40 years. As a result, we are deeply encouraged by the vision that the Poverty Reduction Strategy Office has demonstrated by highlighting this worthy cause. The London Family Court Clinic, along with our community partners, are thrilled about the possibility of making a difference through evidence-based research and contributing to both the body of knowledge and changing lives in fundamental ways."
-- Dr. Daniel Ashbourne, Executive Director, London Family Court Clinic
Middlesex-London Health Unit
The Middlesex-London Health Unit will develop a training centre to educate Ontario public health nurses on how to provide the most vulnerable young mothers and their babies with highly specialized supports during pregnancy and early years to help both parents and children achieve their potential.
"Partnering with the Poverty Reduction Strategy Office will allow us to invest in the health and well-being of our most vulnerable families, in the professional development of public health nurses and the quality of public health programs. This will create an opportunity to develop a Canadian-specific education program designed specifically to provide public health nurses with advanced knowledge and skills to work with families in our communities. It will provide public health nurses with the capacity to deliver evidence-based services to those who need it most."
-- Dr. Christopher Mackie, Medical Officer of Health and Chief Executive Officer,
Middlesex-London Health Unit
United Way Centraide Windsor-Essex County
The United Way Centraide program, On Track to Success, is currently being piloted in Leamington, Ontario. It aims to help more students from low-income families in rural areas graduate from high school and enrol in postsecondary education by addressing financial barriers to academic success. The Local Poverty Reduction Fund will help United Way Centraide evaluate the success of the program.
"United Way's On Track to Success programs ensures that youth have the support they need to graduate high school and attend post-secondary programs. We know that education is one of the clearest pathways out of poverty. By providing youth with this support, we're able to create opportunities for a brighter future. The support from the Local Poverty Reduction fund will used to assist a comprehensive evaluation of the program, and we are extremely grateful for this support."
-- Lorraine Goddard, Chief Executive Officer, United Way Centraide Windsor-Essex County
Western University's initiative will adapt an existing tool to help assess and treat mental health problems in early childhood. The project is based on research that shows early childhood interventions can help decrease poverty later in life. While tools currently exist to help assess the mental health and wellbeing of children between 4 and 18 years of age, this innovative tool will allow individualized planning and care to happen even earlier to support healthy childhood development.
"Poverty is associated with increased risk for chronic developmental, behavioural, and psychological difficulties in young children. Early identification and intervention are important in decreasing the effects of poverty. Through the generous support of the Local Poverty Reduction Fund we will be able to develop and put into action evidence-informed care planning guidelines and interventions for high-risk children using the interRAI Preschool (0-3) assessment system. This, in turn, can lead to improved life outcomes and prevent children and families from slipping into poverty."
-- Dr. Shannon Stewart, Associate Professor, Western University
Through its Prevention of Homelessness Among Families project, Western University aims to reduce homelessness among families with dependent children, the fastest growing homeless group in Canada. Prevention of Homelessness Among Families will extend and evaluate its services in order to identify the risk factors among families facing homelessness and determine which strategies are most effective in helping them obtain and maintain stable housing. The collected evidence will be used to inform the development of homelessness prevention programs in the City of London's neighbourhood hubs.
"Homeless families are a growing group. Our project, in partnership with the City of London and Mission Services, is looking at how we can best prevent this problem from occurring. Preventing homelessness is much better than trying to address it later."
-- Dr. Cheryl Forchuk, Distinguished University Professor and Associate Director of Nursing Research, Western University
Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU), London
Youth Opportunities Unlimited will work with two regional school boards to identify young people who have dropped out of high school and connect them with the right services to put them on the path to success. YOU aims to help young people complete their high school education and prevent them from falling into long-term poverty by connecting them with a variety of supports, including housing, basic needs assistance, employment skills training, health care clinics, and financial literacy workshops.
"These investments come at a time when many people face challenges related to poverty. We have the opportunity to create and test new initiatives that provide long term change for people. For YOU, it allows us to look at the unique social enterprises we have created and sharpen them with partners to bring long term poverty relief. The external evaluation will measure those impacts and allow for them to be applied in communities across our province."
-- Steve Cordes, Executive Director, Youth Opportunities Unlimited
YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin
YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin's project helps homeless or at-risk youth in Elgin County find safe, long-term housing by coordinating among service providers to manage cases and deliver housing supports. YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin will evaluate its services, as well as strengthen them by hiring a registered social worker and implementing an assessment tool to assist with matching youths to appropriate programs. The goal of this project is to decrease the number of homeless youth and enhance their self-sufficiency.
"The Youth Homelessness Protocol is about working collectively to improve the lives of youth in our community. This funding, provided through the Local Poverty Reduction Fund, gives us the important opportunity to further expand the work of preventing youth homelessness and will therefore help build a stronger community for everyone. We're looking forward to working together as we strive to eliminate youth homelessness in our community."
-- Lindsay Rice, Director of Community Programming, YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin