Vanessa Riplinger, Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre executive director, Dr. Matt Burkey, child and youth psychiatrist, and Christa Smith, Denisiqi Service Society executive director, appeared before the committe of the whole meeting Tuesday, April 16 seeking city council’s support for an application to fund a foundry project in Williams Lake. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo.

Williams Lake pursues funding for one-stop-shop for youth services

Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre is partnering with other agencies on its foundry application

The Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre hopes to partner with other agencies with to establish a centre for youth in need of help.

Vanessa Riplinger, executive director of the CCCDC, along with child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Matt Burkey and Denisiqi Service Society executive director Christa Smith appeared as a delegation during a committee of the whole meeting to request a letter of support for provincial funding to set up a Foundry in Williams Lake.

“A foundry centre provides a one-stop shop for young people to access mental health services, acute care services, substance abuse services, primary care services and youth and family care support,” Riplinger said. “Each foundry centre is operated by a lead agency that brings together service providers.”

It’s a new approach to wellness services for youth ages 12 to 24, to find hope, health and support, for early intervention when they need it, she added.

Read more: Youth in care need better path to independence, B.C. expert says

Dr. Burkey, who works out of the CCCDC, said the foundry model is important to bring to the region.

“Some of the strengths in our community are the services that are available to youth,” Burkey said.

“What the foundry does is bring all those good services together under one roof so that a youth who may be struggling with depression, or on the verge of increasing substance use prevalence, or having some housing issues, peer relationship problems or parenting issues knows where to go.”

The goal is to catch problems early and prevent them from getting worse, Burkey added.

It is a model that is gaining lots of traction, and about 12 pilot sites have funded by the province so far, mostly in larger cities.

“Williams Lake was a first runner-up in the last round of funding,” Burkey said, noting foundry projects are funded through the Ministry of Health and Addictions.

Smith said as service providers a foundry is about having a collective impact.

“All of the agencies do really good work in the community, but often a youth is not going to go through multiple doors to find what they need.”

Smith said they want to provide a way for youth to come in for any type of service and be able to get it without having to wonder what is the right place and the right agency.

Getting the service up and running is important and will also help youth as they transition from rural areas to Williams Lake, Smith added.

“If we have services in place, when youth come into town to go to school they can be connected with a place and people. Services not only for drugs and counselling, but for recreation and ways to keep busy and engaged with the community.”

Council was asked by the group to apply political pressure so Williams Lake does not miss out on the opportunity for foundry funding.

“You’ve got the backing of the agencies, which is important,” Smith said.

Riplinger while a specific location for the foundry has yet to be determined, there will be an advisory body of youth and parents that will help with its development.

Burkey said it will be a youth-friendly place designed by experts in consultation with youth.

Foundry was created in 2015, originally as aBC Integrated Youth Services Initiative.

There are projects in Terrace, Richmond, Vancouver, North Shore Vancouver, Kelowna, Prince George, Campbell River, Victoria, Abbotsford, Penticton, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Read more: A day to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health

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