LGBTQ Position Impact
Coordinator, LGBTQ Services
In 2016, a JF&CS manager and staff member put forth a proposal to dedicate half a day a week to provide LGBTQ services to the Jewish LGBTQ Community. The Coordinator, LGBTQ Services strives to improve the Agency’s presence in the LGBTQ community to ensure that we are helping to meet the LGBTQ Jewish community’s needs – the community extends to parents, siblings, children and friends.
In 2017, this position was expanded to 1.5 days a week thanks to a generous donation. Over the next year, we will be working with the Coordinator, LGBTQ Services to determine the impact this role is having on staff, clients, and the LGBTQ Jewish Community overall.
Over the next few months, we will be conducting a Staff Readiness Survey to assess the level of knowledge and comfort staff have in supporting the Jewish LGBTQ Community. This survey will directly inform future training and includes questions such as:
How would you rate your level of knowledge for Trans Issues – Sex, Gender, Sexuality?
Do you know where to find resources for LGBTQ individuals and families? (E.g. pamphlets, materials, lists of community organizations, etc.)?
How comfortable would you be speaking openly with LGBTQ individuals about their lives?
The Pearl Project was launched in 2015 to support and serve young people who have graduated or “aged out” of the foster care system at 18-years-old. The shock of leaving the system may not match the trauma that brought them into it but it is a profoundly jarring and difficult time. Evidence gathered by a 2012 by The Ontario’s Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth entitled “25 is the New 21” indicates that youth leaving care or transitional youth as they are often called, are far more likely to become homeless, to seek refuge in shelters or couch surf. They’re also more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system, to struggle to finish High School, to become single parents and much more…
Simply put, the prospect of establishing an independent life by themselves when they turn 18-years-old is monumentally daunting, unreasonable and unfair. While it is true they are entitled to some modest financial benefits and many do stay in touch with their Social Workers, for the most part they leave foster care or their group home with no backup plan, no community, and no one promising to pick them up when they fall. If nothing else, the message of The Pearl Project to our youth is “You are not alone; you matter to us; we’ve got your back”.
JF&CS founded The Pearl Project to support youth both with practical needs – housing, employment, education, and financial matters – and also with their need for community, mentorship, connections and a sense of belonging, all in the context of a long-term commitment to their success and well-being.
A key Pearl Project message to the community is that these youth became crown wards NOT because of anything they did wrong – they did absolutely nothing wrong – but rather because, sadly, they were born into a family and to parents who could not meet their most basic needs. Often they were the victims of abuse or neglect. The Pearl Project was created, among other reasons, as a vehicle for our community to step forward and assume a more overt, direct role in meeting the array of needs of these youth; to provide them as much as possible with the same caring, support and opportunity we individually provide for our own children. In a very real sense, these youth are our community’s children. We have a responsibility to them and their long term success.
A more detailed description of activities and desired outcomes of the Pearl Project may be found within the Pearl Project Logic Model.
An evaluation plan will be developed to understand the impact the Pearl Project is having on these young people’s lives at the early stages of this program. Areas of interest include:
Understanding whether or not they feel supported by Jewish Family & Child and the Jewish Community
Understanding whether or not participating in the Pearl Project has decreased their feeling of loneliness and isolation.
The benefits from their association with the Pearl Project and whether or it is worthwhile to continue.
Understanding if their association with the Pearl Project has increased their sense of hope for a better future.
Understanding whether or not the supports they receive has increased these individuals connection to the Pearl Project and Jewish Community.
A detailed description of the accomplishments of the Pearl Project since its launch may be found within the Pearl Project Dashboard.
The Woman Abuse program at JF&CS offers an extensive array of services to women and children living in the GTA who have experienced, witnessed, or been exposed to abuse in intimate relationships.
“Violence against women requires a holistic response. It is a social issue, an employment issue, a housing issue, a child care issue, an education issue, a health issue, a community safety issue, a justice issue, and more. The lives of women do not conform to boundaries among programs, ministries, agencies, institutions or levels of government.” (Violence Against Women Policy Framework, 2010).
The Woman Abuse Program at JF&CS focuses first on increasing safety and security of women and their children, but our multi-service nature makes us unique in that we are able to provide a holistic suite of in-house services that are customized and tailored to each participant’s needs (e.g., employment, housing, child care, education, health, legal, etc.).
Supports can include:
immediate crisis intervention (safety plans, transitional housing);
financial assistance and vocational supports; and
evidence-informed individual and group counselling to address the psychological impact of abuse.