Youth and Family Support Services

Margaret’s Story – Youth and Family Counsellor

Margaret Howard is a seasoned professional who has worked for YES for almost 20 years.

Margaret began as a drug and alcohol counsellor and since YES took over the Kiwanis Youth Shelter in 2003, her Youth and Family Support Services have been provided at that location.  You don’t have to be using the emergency shelter services to access Margaret.  Referrals come from schools, social workers, police, probation officers, mental health, and from families and youth themselves.

Margaret’s warm, calm, welcoming approach makes her service very “user friendly”.  She sees youth between 14 and 19, slightly more females than males and she keeps about 25 files open on her caseload at any one time.  Once they turn 19, youth have “aged out” of the service.  While Margaret practices at the youth shelter, her partner takes the service out into the community, meeting youth in schools, coffee shops, or their homes.  Both counsellors integrate and co-ordinate their work with other service providers.

Margaret pays close attention to the dynamics within the family and teases out the wisdom.

Adolescence appears to take longer these days, Margaret observes.  She notices that youth have fewer opportunities to build independence, and as a result have less self-confidence than when kids had the “right to roam”.  Kid’s lives are often over-programmed and they are more likely to be supervised closely by their parents.  When their approach is based on fear and lack of trust, parents create a whole lot more worries for themselves.

Margaret takes a very “client-centred” approach. The youth and the parent’s needs are identified and goals are developed with input from both.  Margaret pays close attention to the dynamics within the family and teases out the wisdom.  She helps promote understanding, and improve patterns of interaction and communication, as well as shining light on where boundaries and expectations need to be reviewed and revised.

Stress within families is a big factor.  Families are faced with fewer resources and more demands upon them than even ten years ago.  Mental health concerns are frequent, with anxiety being the #1 source of difficulty, followed by depression.  Technology is often cited as a frequent source of conflict within families.

Margaret describes herself as a straight-shooter.  She seems ideally suited to working with youth and their families in times of trouble as she is knowledgeable and highly skilled, yet relaxed, and willing to “lead from behind”.  The Youth and Family Support Services Program is indeed lucky to have her.

Services offered by YES include:

youth and family counselling, community outreach, after hours pager access, referrals, assessments, specialized interventions, a missing youth system, assistance with health issues, advocacy, meeting basic needs (shelter, food, clothing, hygiene etc.), emergency crisis response (including emergency/crisis shelter services), community development, life skills training, independent living support/transitional planning, consultation and assistance with issues related to addictions, mental health, employments, housing, education, etc.

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